Foot and Mouth Disease breaks out, government imposes quarantine

Masindi, Kiryandongo, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi and Nakasongola are among 24 districts where movement of livestock and livestock products has been banned following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in five districts of south western Uganda.

Other districts where movement has been restricted include Kalungu, Kyotera, Koboko, Mbarara, Lyantonde, Rubirizi, Nakaseke and Rakai after FMD was detected in many herds in Sembabule, Gomba, Kazo, Kiruhura and Isingiro districts forcing government to impose a quarantine to stop the spread of the disease.

This means movement of livestock and livestock products into and out of these districts or through to other districts has been restricted with immediate effect with Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono being singled out as at high risk of an outbreak.

Districts bordering national game parks as well as those along transit roads used by livestock traders and exporters have been affected since they are at risk.

Although it is not clear how many animals have been affected, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has procured 2.4 million doses for vaccinating livestock in these districts. This programme will cost Shs13b.

Mr Bright Rwamirama, the State Minister for Animal Husbandry, says selective vaccinations coupled with cross border and internal movement controls have previously proved effective.

The minister says the vaccination is free and compulsory adding that government is already aware that farmers are likely to incur losses by not selling their animal products such as hides, milk, beef, or live animals during quarantine time.

He attributes Uganda’s failure to totally eradicate FMD to the indiscipline of veterinarians, farmers as well as failure to harmonise measures with neighbouring districts.

However, Mr Medard Kakuru, a Research Analyst at the Economic Policy Research Centre observes that though the approach of FMD prevention and control involving imposing quarantine restrictions, sensitisation and vaccination is the most effective approach, numbers matter a lot.

“Indeed, these approaches are the most effective in the prevention and control of FMD. What is worrisome, however, is that despite the government adopting the recommended practices, FMD has remained uncontainable. Consequently, the quarantines are unending in some areas and take long to be lifted in other areas due to FMD re-occurrences”.   

Mr Kakuru observes that it might be too expensive for the government to vaccinate all the animals in the country adding that a nationwide quarantine might also be too costly.

“Effective vaccination should cover at least 90 per cent of the national herd and should be done before the onset of the disease, or at worst, within the first two weeks after the onset”, he adds.

Figures

There are about 40 million livestock in Uganda:

16 million goats

15 million head of cattle

5.6 million sheep

5 million swine

About FMD

FMD is a viral disease of cloven hoofed livestock and wildlife including cattle, goats, swine, sheep and buffaloes. It was first confirmed in Uganda in 1953.  The disease is characterised by fever and blister-like sores on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the teats and between the hooves.


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