by Robert Manyara
The experts from the Africa Veterinary Technical Association (AVTA) called for an increase in surveillance and more resources toward vaccination of livestock and staff protection.
“We are worried that not enough has been done by county governments to address the issue of Rift Valley Fever which spreads very fast during rainy seasons,” AVTA chairman Benson Ameda told journalists in Nakuru.
According to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the last major outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in the country was reported in 2006-2007.
The outbreak left 162 people dead while the livestock sector lost 40 million U.S. dollars, according to a study conducted by the research body and the directorate of health services.
Ameda said there were fears that cases of the disease could be high due to the flooding and expressed his concern over lack of preparedness by the county governments warning that there was need for urgent mitigation measures.
In October, the government called on livestock farmers to vaccinate their cattle against Rift Valley fever due to El Nino rains.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Professor Fred Segor said the vaccination is part of the preparedness by the farmers to mitigate the effects on the long rains expected to fall anytime.
Segor argued that it is critical for livestock farmers to ensure their cattle is vaccinated to overcome diseases during the El Nino period and directed veterinarians working in semi arid regions to support livestock farmers to protect their cattle against diseases.
On Thursday, Ameda said the veterinarians should be equipped with the necessary protective and equipment. He noted that in the last outbreak over 150 people including one veterinarian lost their lives to the deadly disease.
“Though no case has been reported, we should not take chances as the Rift Valley Fever affects both human beings and livestock,” he said.
The Director of Veterinary Services in the ministry of agriculture, Dr Kisa Juma has noted that with the current weather condition there is high chance of the occurrence of RFV and other vector borne diseases.
Kisa has directed his officers to place the early warning systems on high alert. The director has ordered the stepping up of surveillance for livestock showing symptoms of RVF at market place and where livestock are congregated.
“Some of the Rift Valley Fever symptoms include sudden onset of abortions, high fever, nasal and ocular discharges in mature animals, vomit and abdominal colic,” Kisa said.
He directed sub-county officers to report any suspected case of RFV to the headquarters and submit samples immediately for testing. Enditem