Quarantine in Kyotera as anthrax hits

KYOTERA, December 5, 2023 – Authorities in Kyotera district have imposed a quarantine on the movement of cattle and, the sale of beef and dairy products following an outbreak of anthrax which officials say has claimed the lives of 17 people who reportedly ate infected meat.

According to the Kyotera District Health Officer, Dr. Edward Muwanga, anthrax is caused by bacillus anthracis, a spore-like bacteria that produces strong toxins that are dangerous to both animals and humans. Ruminants such as cows, goats, and sheep can quickly die with their carcasses showing little signs of infection but in human beings, symptoms begin with a flu-like illness, raised boil-like lesions on the skin.

Dr. Muwanga said that 17 people who died include butchers and herdsmen suspected to have acquired the anthrax from the infected animals. He also said more than 40 cows have died especially in Kabira Sub-county where the disease first broke around October.

He confirmed that the laboratory tests from Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe have shown it is anthrax which caused the deaths of 17 people. Dr. Muwanga said some patients died in the hands of traditional healers believing that it was witchcraft.

However, he said, different prevention approaches have been employed to combat the spread of the deadly disease to other parts of the district that lies in the central cattle corridor.

With joint efforts, district leaders, medical workers, and veterinary doctors have intensified operations to stop the transportation of animals without health certificates and also control the movement of cattle from the most-at-risk subcounty of Kabira to other areas.

The Kyotera District Veterinary Officer, John Mary Lutaaya said they have imposed a quarantine in Kabira subcounty for two months.

”We have banned selling of meet by butcheries in Kabira subcounty. The district veterinary department is no longer issuing any cattle movement permits to cattle traders,” he said.

He also sounded a warning to all butcher men in Kyotera town to desist from selling meat that is not inspected and verified by veterinary officers as fit for human consumption. ”The meat from the recommended abattoir should be stamped by the veterinary officers before it is taken to the butcheries for sale,” he said.

The veterinary officer also said they have a challenge of controlling traders who move animals from cattle markets, and herders who move animals from place to place in search of water.

He said they have notified the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries [MAAIF] to provide Kyotera district with veterinary and human drugs for treatment of anthrax.

Meanwhile, livestock farmers, cattle traders, and butchers are crying foul as the current outbreak of anthrax continues to affect their businesses.

Joseph Kagame, a dairy farmer at Bukaala village in Kabira Sub-county said the price of milk has gone down from Shs 1,200 to Shs 700 per litre because customers in the neighbouring towns have stopped buying the milk for fear of acquiring anthrax. “Our source of income is cattle, where can we get money to sustain our families?” Kagame said.

Hassan Kibirige, a butcher in Kyotera town said since they stopped buying cows from Kabira Sub-county, the price of cows in the neighbouring Rakai district has increased from Shs 1.5 million to 2.3mln for a 100-kilogramme cow. He said they will also be tempted to increase the price of beef in this December.

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