The Sunday News
MORE than 100 cattle have died in Chivhu, Masvingo province over the past few months following the outbreak of theileriosis diseases where beasts die frothing from the mouth and excreting blood stained cow dung.
Veterinary Services Director Dr Josphat Nyika said his department was investigating the disease.
“We will definitely investigate this issue,” said Dr Nyika.
Sources in the department from the area, however, said the major problem was that the disease was generally new in Zimbabwe, hence efforts to deal with it were slow.
“The disease is generally new that is why we had a number of cattle dying,” said an official with the department.
According to experts, Theileriosis is caused by a small protozoan parasite that infects both red and white blood cells of cattle.
The theileria parasite is spread by blood sucking arthropod insects, particularly various species of ticks. It can affect cattle of all ages, although heavily pregnant, lactating, and stressed cows tend to be at greatest risk, due to resultant reduction in immunity.
Farmers from the area said the disease has resulted in a number of them losing a considerable number of their cattle.
A farmer from Ward 21 cattle farmer, Mrs Kethrine Mumayi said she lost five cattle as a result the disease.
“I lost five cattle to this strange disease within a space of a month. Normally, the affected animal starts to shiver and prefers resting under a tree shade. The animal will be discharging cow dung stained with blood. The animal will also be frothing from the mouth,” said Mrs Mumayi.
Another farmer from the same area, Mr Gilbert Sikume said cattle in the area started dying last year.
“A lot of people no longer have cattle in this area. Their animals were wiped out by this disease. If something is not done as a matter of urgency, this disease might spread to other nearby areas and affect other farmers since we are not fully aware of how to contain it,” he said.
He said after skinning some of the affected animals they also discovered that the beasts had soft liver.
“When we reported this disease to the veterinary services department, the officials came and collected blood samples but since then, we have not heard anything from them. I know of a farmer who lost 60 beasts to this disease,” he said.