Farmers in Namisindwa District are facing challenges as lumpy skin disease has affected many of their cattle.
Lumpy skin disease is a viral illness caused by a pox virus, which is transmitted by insects like mosquitoes and ticks, as well as birds.
Cattle infected with this disease show symptoms such as fever and skin nodules, and it can even lead to death, especially in cows that have never encountered the virus before.
According to Mr. David Mityelo, the acting production officer of the district, several sub-counties have been affected by this disease. These include Bumbo, Bukokho, Buwatuwa, Lwakhakha, Tsekululu, Mukoto, and Bukhabusi.
Mr. Mityelo explained that although there is no cure or treatment for lumpy skin disease since it’s caused by a virus, it can be prevented from spreading by implementing measures like quarantine, isolating sick animals, and vaccination. The district has already started vaccination efforts in affected areas.
Mr. Jackson Wakwaika, the district chairperson, mentioned that the disease may have spread from Kenya, as Namisindwa shares a border with that country. He believes that traders involved in cross-border animal trade might have imported the disease, as Kenya is currently dealing with a lumpy skin disease outbreak.
Despite alerting the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries, the district has yet to receive a response regarding vaccinations and on-the-ground assessments.
To combat the disease’s spread, the district has initiated a massive awareness campaign among farmers through sub-county extension workers.
Ms. Julie Namara, the deputy Resident District Commissioner, mentioned that they have banned cross-border animal trade and have received a limited supply of vaccines from development partners to vaccinate cattle in the hardest-hit sub-counties.
However, some cattle traders continue to violate the ban, smuggling meat and animals to neighboring districts.
Farmers like Mr. Samuel Nandokho have appealed to the Agriculture ministry to provide free vaccines, as not all farmers can afford the vaccination cost.
Mr. John Musila, the Member of Parliament for Bubulo East in Namisindwa District, described this outbreak as a significant disaster for local farmers and is working to secure a swift response from the line ministry to minimize losses.
Efforts to obtain a comment from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.
About Lumpy Skin Disease:
Lumpy skin disease is a contagious cattle disease characterized by skin nodules and other body lesions. It has historically been found in southern and eastern Africa, but it has spread to other regions since the 1970s, including the Middle East and parts of Europe. The disease’s recent geographic expansion has raised international concerns, and vaccination using attenuated virus appears to be the most effective control method.