A new outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, which saw a ban on animal movement in three districts in eastern Rwanda has caused panic among herders and raised fear of a price hike in animal products.
Officials in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources said that so far, seven cows have been diagnosed with the virus with six in Nyagatare District and one in Kayonza.
Gerardine Mukeshimana, Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources said “Affected areas have been quarantined, animals have been vaccinated and herders have been mobilised to observe instituted measures.”
A temporarily ban that covers all movement of cows, goats, sheep and pigs as well as meat commercialisation has been imposed in seven sectors namely Karangazi, Rwimiyaga in the district of Nyagatare, Kabarore and Rwembogo in Gatsibo District as well as Murundi, Gahini and Mwiri in Kayonza District.
“The ban is likely to have an impact on the price of meat in Kigali, because markets in the affected areas constitute the primary source of abattoirs in the capital,” said Sylvere Ntihabose, a cattle herder.
A resident of Nyagatare who did not want to be named told Rwanda Today that a prolonged ban would affect many families, given that many rely on their animals for daily survival.
So far, the embargo does not cover milk products, but authorities have warned that it might be included among restricted products if the virus persists. To avoid the worst, authorities have urged herders to immediately report any suspicious signs of the disease to local authorities.
“It is shocking that we still have farmers who do not disclose infected cattle, thinking they can treat them in their farms but this is wrong and it puts many of their animals at risk. We invite all herders to co-operate in eradicating this contagion,” said Godfrey Mugisha Kanyoni, who is in charge of animal disease prevention in Eastern province.
In a press release issued, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources warned that those who would not abide by measures set in motion and cause the spreading of this contagious disease risk prosecution.
The Rwanda penal code punishes the spreading of contagious diseases of domestic animals, to a term of imprisonment between one and six months and a fine of between Rwf100,000 ($118.6) to Rwf1 million ($1,186)
Rwanda Today learnt that hundreds of livestock suspected to be infected with Foot and Mouth Disease are kept in Gabiro military camp and veterinary officers have been stationed in seven sites surrounding the camp to prevent any animal movement.
Disinfectants mixed with water are at all the sites and people who want to cross from quarantined areas must wash anything suspected of carrying the virus in the disinfected water.
According to veterinarians, Foot and Mouth Disease is a severe and extremely infectious disease, and only early recognition of signs and the prompt notification of veterinary officials can help in successfully suppressing it; thus the need for co-operation from herders.