Blackleg outbreak hits Mat South

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A serious outbreak of blackleg disease has hit most parts of Matabeleland South where it has claimed over 50 head of cattle in the past few weeks.

Inat Mdlongwa, provincial principal veterinary officer, confirmed the development yesterday.

“The most affected areas are Insiza, Umzingwane district and Beitbridge. Few cases have come up from Mangwe. So far we have lost about 50 cattle in the four districts,” he said,Blackleg is a fatal cattle disease caused by the spore forming rod-shaped, gas-producing bacteria.

The spores of the organism can live in the soil for many years.

Mdlongwa said the disease usually strikes in March. “Usually cattle get this disease when they are fat and the cattle that are affected are those mostly between three months up to three years of age,” he said.

“This is one of the normal diseases which are controllable. It is not like other diseases where we have to camp out in the most affected areas to vaccinate the animals. As farmers they should know when to vaccinate their animals and should be on the lookout for these diseases when the cattle have reached the age of three months up to three years.”

The bacteria enter the calf by ingestion and gain entrance to the body through small punctures in the mucous membrane of the digestive tract.

The disease is not transmitted directly from sick animals to healthy ones by mere contact.