Livestock farming is under threat as thousands of cattle die due to preventable diseases. During the summer of 2017/2018 alone, 50 000 cattle died from January disease or Theileriosis, a tick-borne infection.
The most effective way of combating the disease is through regular dipping of cattle. However, the major challenge has been the unavailability of foreign currency needed to import the dipping chemicals.
Principal director in the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) Dr Unesu Ushewokunze-Obatolu had this to say:
2018 experienced high death rates among communal and A1 cattle in Theileriosis hotspots. Upwards of 50 000 herds were lost to this disease in the 2017-2018 summer.
When dipping of cattle is effective, the disease disappears. Dipping failure occurs when animals miss treatment because the chemical is unavailable … (or) due to dipping concentration being suboptimal.
Local industry has not yet taken the opportunity to venture into animal disease vaccine production, and most animal vaccines are imported.
The Department of Veterinary Services hopes to begin incubating production of a range of animal disease vaccines in 2019. Presently, DVS produces a weak, but a highly protective strain of Newcastle virus vaccine and vaccines against three cattle tick-borne diseases.