BY brenna matendere
A DEADLY anthrax outbreak has hit Gokwe North district in the Midlands province, with farmers losing large herds of cattle while several people were reportedly hospitalised after eating infected meat.
Midlands veterinary officer, Munyaradzi Chigiji, confirmed the development and said his department had since moved in to put the outbreak under control.
“We have had great losses of livestock to date and our tests confirmed that it was anthrax. Farmers have lost huge numbers of cattle due to the outbreak so far. We have also recorded cases of human beings who have been treated of the disease in the affected areas. Although we cannot confirm the number of deaths of the livestock what we can say is that farmers have lost out,” Chigiji said.
“During my visit to the area, I arrived at a homestead which had lost 15 cattle. I also visited another one which had lost four. We also have several other farmers who have lost their livestock due to the anthrax.”
The hardest hit areas are Nembudziya, Simchembo and Chireya.
Southern Eye yesterday spoke to farmers at Nembudziya Growth Point who confirmed that the outbreak was wreaking havoc in the area.
“I lost a herd of 11 cattle due to the outbreak. In my village alone, over 80 cattle have perished in the recent past due to the outbreak. Here, our main economic activity has been cotton growing but lately we had shifted to cattle ranching because the cotton has become less profitable due to falling prices,” said Nomore Machivenyika, a farmer in Maserukwe village.
“This outbreak has, therefore, come as a big blow for us.”
Another farmer told this paper that several people in Nembudziya had been hospitalised after eating infected meat.
“There are people who have been selling cheap meat around this area and little did people know it was of cattle that died of anthrax. Several of them have been going to Nembudziya Hospital for treatment,” Nomore Musundire said.
Chigiji said measures to control the outbreak had since been put in place.
“As we speak, we have dispatched 10 400 (vials of) vaccines to Gokwe North so that cattle be vaccinated. We have also been carrying out awareness campaigns in conjunction with the Ministry of Health. In terms of humans, no one has died from anthrax,” he said.
Chigiji also revealed that another livestock disease, heartwater, had been wiping out cattle in the same district.
“We had shortages of dipping chemicals so heartwater also caught up with the livestock. However, we are working to normalise the situation,” he said.