January 21, 2013


Foot and mouth disease hits central Kenya


Central Kenya was hit by an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, with the Veterinary Department blaming the transportation of livestock without movement permits for its spread.


Deputy provincial veterinary officer Lawrence Kibunja said that Kirinyaga Central had the highest incidence of the disease because animals in transit pass through the district.


"The outbreak is mostly brought about by illegal transportation of livestock. We are effectively working with the police in order to arrest those breaking the law," said Kibunja.


Before transporting livestock, farmers and traders are required to apply to the department for a permit, which then checks whether there is an infectious disease rampant in the source region before issuing the document. Failure to apply for the permit means animals are moved without the veterinary officials ascertaining the likelihood of disease spread.


Police at roadblocks or on patrol are the ones mandated to ensure domestic animals are moved from one zone to another only with permits. Under the Animal Diseases Act, livestock should only be transported between 6am and 6pm and from areas where no quarantine, travel restriction, has been imposed.


Provincial weekly report shows that four cases of animals infected with the foot and mouth disease were reported in Kirinyaga central last week. He added that no infected stock should be moved without written document from the director of Veterinary Services unless the animal was earlier disinfected and treated by a veterinary officer.


Kibunja said that quarantine would be issued within a five-kilometre radius of area where the four cases were detected. Foot-and-mouth disease is an infectious and sometimes fatal viral disease that affects domestic and wild bovine. The virus causes a high fever for two or three days, followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet that may rupture and cause lameness.


Susceptible livestock include cattle, sheep, goats and pigs as well as wild animals such as water buffalos, deers, and antelopes. Kibunja said that the disease mostly occurs during the dry season because many livestock moves from one place to another in search of pasture.

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