Zambia’s Copperbelt has been hit by East Coast fever. It has so far killed 100 cattle, Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) and local authorities have confirmed.
According to local media, the disease is concentrated in Lufwanyama, about 100 kilometres from the provincial capital Ndola. “The outbreak is due to a lack of adequate dip tanks in the district, exacerbated by the illegal movement of cattle from one district to another,” the ZNFU said in its weekly brief.
Veterinary officials who asked not to be named, said poor adherence to field officers’ advice to immediately report the outbreak of cattle diseases, contributed to cattle fatalities. “We have enough doses of vaccine against east coast fever, but there is poor reporting by farmers,” an officer said.
Cattle diseases constrain the expansion of Zambia’s livestock sector, which accounts for more than 35% of agriculture’s share of the national gross domestic product (GDP). The impact of livestock diseases was clear in 2013, when African swine fever broke out. Government spent more than K100 million to compensate farmers whose animals were slaughtered to contain the disease.
Consequently, government instituted a number of programmes to prevent and control animal diseases to increase the growth rate of the sector. This included the recent development of local vaccines and the implementation of early warning systems to mitigate the devastating impact of livestock diseases.