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Livestock Vaccination Gathers Momentum

10 February 2009

ZIMBABWE - The veterinary department says that the vaccination programme for poultry (against Newcastle disease) and cattle (against anthrax) is progressing well.

The livestock vaccination programme conducted by the Department of Veterinary Services is now at an advanced stage with at least 50 per cent of the poultry population and most cattle in the communal areas having been covered, according to All Africa..

Department of Veterinary Field Services director, Dr Unesu Ushewokunze-Obatolu, said Newcastle disease vaccination had been conducted in 33 districts covering 197,855 households in 720 wards throughout the country.

"Poultry, however, has a short life-span and the campaigns need to be repeated once in every three months in order to maintain adequately high levels of population immunity among the birds which are constantly under challenge due to infections from wild birds," she added.

For this reason, the campaign is designed to meet sustainability issues by training community-based vaccinators who will use the user-friendly eye drop I2 vaccine with ease, without close veterinary supervision, to ensure that immunity levels are always high and protective.

So far, Dr Ushewokunze said, 30,471 community-based vaccinators have been trained and have vaccinated more than four million birds.

"It is also important to note that while Newcastle is a highly fatal disease of poultry, and therefore of public interest, it is only one among many other infectious diseases of poultry which farmers need to take preventive measures against," she said.

For anthrax, 823,875 cattle were vaccinated at 546 dip tanks benefiting 58,033 households.

The vaccinations were aimed at covering all new outbreak areas and known old anthrax 'hot spots'. Resource shortages had hampered veterinary environmental sanitisation. Vaccine procurement services had, therefore, not been as effective as in the past few years.

"The consequence is that there have been more outbreaks in new areas this year than in the past," Dr Ushewokunze-Obatolu told AllAfrica.

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