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January disease kills 2,000 cattle in Zimbabwe

Staff Writer |
At least 2,000 cattle have died of January disease, also known as Theileriosis - a tick-borne disease common between December and March - with Government is urging farmers to intensify dipping of their livestock as a prevention measure.

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Government has also intensified awareness campaigns in affected areas that include Goromonzi, Bindura, Chegutu and Chivhu.

The disease is spread through the bite of the brown ear tick. Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement's Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services director Dr Josphat Nyika confirmed the deaths. He said the number deaths could be higher as some cases were not reported.

Dr Nyika said his department was aware of the outbreak of the January disease and had deployed teams to assess the situation and educate farmers on preventive measures.

He said most farmers were not dipping their cattle, further worsening the situation. Dr Nyika said farmers, especially in Domboshava, preferred spraying cattle on their own, but were not following the correct procedures.

"The major challenges are irregular dipping," he said. "Most dip tanks are not on the recommended weekly dipping due to lack of dipping chemicals.

"There is also low turnout at dip tanks. Most farmers are not willing to take their cattle for dipping at the communal dip tanks. Some prefer conducting the operation themselves, but may do it in the wrong way and this is not effective in controlling ticks.

"The other challenge is that there are fake chemicals on the market and some farmers can not tell the difference as the packaging and labelling is the same.

"Some unscrupulous dealers are packaging tea and selling it as dip. Farmers should buy dipping chemicals from reputable retailers. There is also shortage of the drugs to treat the disease especially Burparvaquione," he said.

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