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Rwanda - Eastern Province on alert as Rift Valley Fever kills over 100 cows

At least 100 cows in Ngoma District of Eastern Province have died from Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in recent weeks.

The disease has also spread to the nearby Kirehe District.

RVF is an acute fever-causing viral disease that’s commonly observed in domesticated animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and camels. It can also attack wild animals such as buffaloes.

The disease is caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes and blood feeding flies and mostly affects animals but it can also be transmitted to humans, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In humans, the disease ranges from a mild flu-like illness to severe haemorrhagic fever that can be deadly.

Ngoma District vice mayor for Finance and Economic Development, Jean-Marie Vianney Rwiririza, told that 102 cows had died from the fatal disease, while 103 others have aborted since the disease was first reported in the district on May 18.

WHO says RVF can cause significant economic losses due to high mortality rate among young animals and waves of abortions.

The virus was first identified in 1931 among sheep on a farm in the Rift Valley of Kenya.

The vice mayor for Finance and Economic Planning of Kirehe, Jean-Damascène Nsengiyumva, said that about 16 cows in the district had been successfully treated of the infection while 22 were still undergoing treatment

“We are vaccinating cows which have not yet been infected and treating those infected,” Nsengiyumva said.

Jean-Bosco Ndatimana, 35, a dairy farmer from Kirehe Sector in Kirehe District, lost a cow to the disease just a day after it got infected.

The cow, which he bought for Rwf 600,000 in August 2015, he said, was producing 20 litres of milk a day and was helping him fend for his family.

He says the cow’s value had since increased to about Rwf2 million.

Officials at Rwanda Agriculture Board say that RVF was first recorded in Rwanda in 2011 and the Government started vaccinating cows against the disease in 2015.

The vaccines are provided free of charge.

Dr Isidore Gafarasi, the Director of Veterinary Services at RAB, said some districts did not vaccinate their cows against the viral disease fast enough, adding that both Ngoma and Kirehe districts had a target to inoculate 7,500 cattle each.

Under the Veterinary Delivery Services/ Livestock Development project, the Government set aside some Rwf500 million for the current financial year (2017/18) for RVF vaccines for 127,793 cows in all of the country’s 30 districts.

A restriction has been imposed on cattle movement in the affected region to help contain the viral disease.

Consumption of the affected meat is prohibited because the disease can be transmitted to humans.

Source – http://www.newtimes.co.rw

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