Zimbabwe reports increase in tick-borne diseases in cattle

Multiple provinces in Zimbabwe are losing cattle due to tick-borne diseases, with ongoing outbreaks of January disease reported in Mashonaland West.
calendar icon 6 January 2021
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According to Zimbabwe’s Herald and All Africa, provincial health authorities have confirmed huge cattle deaths in Mashonaland West and the Midlands.

Speaking to The Herald, veterinarian Dr Martin Sibanda said, "Many provinces have been affected by tick-borne diseases, particularly Theileriosis, better known as January disease, red water, heart water and gall sickness. Mashonaland West has reported massive cattle deaths due to tick-borne diseases during the year 2019 to date, and outbreaks seem to be continuing.”

Latest infection figures show that nearly 63 percent of cattle from Mashonaland West were affected by January disease.

Dr Sibanda said that tick-borne diseases remain challenging because farmers and veterinary services are struggling to adhere to the dipping calendar.

"The result has been failure to control tick populations in both communal and resettlement areas. Farmers have not been adhering to dipping regulations. In all areas, farmers are advised to dip their cattle weekly and to report sick cattle and cattle deaths to the Department of Veterinary Services.

"Clinical examinations and post-mortems will help establish which disease is at play and to recommend appropriate treatment.

Dipping is the most and only effective way of managing the disease. Last year we had inadequate dipping cycles due to the shortage of chemicals despite the farmers paying their dipping levies. The shortage is attributed to the lack of foreign currency to purchase dipping chemicals. The country is losing more cattle each and every day", Dr Sibanda said.

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