Foot and mouth disease hits four districts in Bugisu region

Foot and mouth disease hits four districts in Bugisu region
A foot and mouth disease affected cow. Courtesy Photo.

There is a confirmed outbreak of the Foot and Mouth disease in four districts in Bugisu Region. The affected districts include Mbale, Manafwa, Namisindwa and Bududa. Dr. Felix Odongo, the Bududa District Veterinary Officer, says the disease was first noticed in Bumasete and Bududa sub counties on Friday last week.

He explains that to minimize the spread of the disease to other sub counties the district has banned the movement of livestock and animal products from the affected sub counties to other areas in the district. Dr. Odongo also says they have banned the sale of milk and slaughter of animals in both sub counties.

He says they have written to the Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Ministry for intervention. The Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is an infectious viral disease that attacks hoofed domestic and wild animals. It can be spread by infected animals and their products, vehicles and feeds.

FMD causes fever in infected animals followed by blisters, largely in the mouth and feet of cloven-footed animals, such as cattle. “I advise people not to eat the meat from such animals,” Dr. Odongo said. Dr. Denis Okello, the Manafwa and Namisindwa District Veterinary Officer, says the disease was first noticed in the district in September.

He said the most affected sub counties in Manafwa district are Mayenze, Bukusu, Buwagogo, Buwabwala and Nakhupa. Dr. Okello so far 15 cases of infected animals from Manafwa district have been reported to his office. In Namisindwa district, so far 70 animals have been reported to be infected by the foot and mouth disease since it broke out last month.

The affected sub counties include Bukhabusi, Tsekululu and Mukoto. According to Dr. Okello, most of the farmers are ignorant about the disease and continue eating meat from infected animals. Dr. Michael Wandukwa, the Mbale District Veterinary Officer, also says numerous cases of infected animals have been reported in Namabasa, Nakaloke, Namayoyi, Lwasso, Bukasakya, Bungokho, Mutoto, Bukonde and Busano sub counties.

According to Dr. Wandukwa, the first of the foot and mouth disease was reported in May this year. He says they carried out vaccination in the affected sub counties and need to do more. Dr. Wandukwa says one of the challenges they are facing is enforcement, which is very difficult in rural areas.

Patrick Wanzala, a resident of Nakaloke Town Council in Mbale district told this publication that his four cows presented with high fever for three days followed by blisters in the mouth and on the feet, which affected their movement.

Wanzala says he tried to treat the animal in vain. A retired veterinary officer in Mbale who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity blames the spread of the disease on the agriculture Ministry for failing to take action when the first cases were reported in May.

“I blame the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries for failing to impose quarantine in Mbale district,” he said. He expressed fears that Mbale being on the high way, the Foot and Mouth disease will spread to more districts.

The Agriculture Ministry has organised a sensitization meeting for the District Veterinary Officers, which ongoing in Kampala. In 2014, the Agriculture Ministry imposed quarantine in Eastern and North Eastern Uganda districts to contain the spread of FMD.