Massive disaster as January Disease kills 500 000 cattle worth US$150 million in Zimbabwe
AGRICULTURE deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos has said over 500 000 cattle worth US$150 million succumbed to the January Disease between 2018 and 2022.
Speaking at the launch of theileria vaccine pilot vaccination programme in Rusape’s Makoni district on Tuesday, Haritatos said farmers should intensively dip their cattle to avoid the spread of tick-borne diseases.
“More than 65% of cattle deaths in Zimbabwe are due to tick-borne diseases (TBDs), including theileriosis (January Disease). More than 500 000 cattle valued at more than US$150 million died due to January Disease from 2018 to 2022,” Haritatos said.
“So this pilot vaccination programme will be spread to all theileriosis-affected provinces targeting at least two of the most affected districts per province and two dip tanks from each of the selected districts.”
The disease, which has a fatality rate of up to 90%, is most common between December and March.
Haritatos said the country had produced 20 460 doses of theileria vaccines to curb the disease.
“This means that Zimbabwe now has the ability to locally produce three vaccines out of four major TBDs, which will save a considerable amount of foreign currency. What remains is to scale up the production levels to commercial level,” he said.
“While dipping remains the most cost-effective method of controlling ticks and tick-borne diseases, there are many other ways of supplementing the dipping programme such as the use of tick-borne disease vaccines, tick grease application, the use of TBD vaccines, accaricide resistance monitoring, dip wash strength monitoring, spatial tick distribution, dip tank rehabilitation and construction of new dip-tanks and intensive dipping regime in January Disease hotspots.”
January Disease is a notifiable disease in Zimbabwe and when cases are suspected, farmers are compelled by law to report to the Department of Veterinary Services.