Mysterious Outbreak Threatens Namibian Beef Industry

NAMIBIA - A mysterious lung disease that has infected and decimated large herds of cattle in Sesheke district in Zambia poses an imminent threat to the livestock industry in Caprivi.
calendar icon 15 December 2006
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The disease is said to have baffled experts who are trying to pinpoint the virus that infects the lungs, from where it leaves the diseased lungs in yellowish legions. Infected herds also suffer significant weight loss.

Subsistence farmers who are said to have suffered significant stock losses are mainly in areas such as Sikaunzwe, Simalaha, Kasaya, Mambova and Kazungula, sharing the Zambezi River as a natural boundary with settlements along the river.

Though the unknown livestock disease is said to have broken out a few months ago since the first cases were initially detected, it is believed to have reached a crescendo in November, decimating large herds of livestock. Villagers here depend mostly on these animals for a livelihood as they are their source of beef and dairy products. They also use them for ploughing.

Sources say in the absence of a vaccine to contain the outbreak, officials are rounding up and herding infected cattle towards makeshift slaughterhouses, from where the carcasses are set on fire in an operation akin to one that took place in Botswana where there was a similar outbreak.

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