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Vet Department Procures $2,2bn Vaccines


Harare

THE Department of Veterinary Services has procured 350 000 doses of vaccines worth US$400 000 ($2,2 million) from the Botswana Vaccine Institute, to help contain recent outbreaks of the foot-and-mouth disease which is threatening the country's national herd.

Veterinary Services principal director Dr Stuart Hargreaves said yesterday that the first consignment of 250 000 doses was expected this week and would be followed by another batch of 100 000 doses.

He said today, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) would hand over a further 350 000 doses boosting the department's efforts to contain the foot-and-mouth disease and other diseases affecting the national herd. "This will make an enormous difference for us in the fight against the foot-and-mouth disease," he said. "This will also enable us to maintain immunity for cattle in areas exposed to infection."

Lack of foreign currency was hampering the department's efforts to contain foot-and-mouth outbreaks and other animal diseases.

New cases of foot-and-mouth have been detected in Masvingo and Manicaland provinces. The disease is said to have spread more rapidly in most parts of Sengwe communal areas in Chiredzi district where a total of 2 159 cases were reported.

In Mwenezi district, 151 cases were reported in the Nuanetsi Ranch while in Zaka, a total of 38 new cases were reported.

Only two cases of anthrax outbreaks have so far been reported this year in the Makoni district of Manicaland and Gokwe district in Midlands province.

According to information from the department, tick-borne diseases were on the increase with 205 cases of anaplasmosis (gall sickness which is tick borne), 122 cases of heartwater (tick borne disease), 52 cases babesiosis (red water tick borne disease) and one case of theileriosis (January tick disease) having been reported to date.

A total of 125 cases of the quarter evil disease (bacterial disease) were reported throughout the country.

Dr Hargreaves said there was a lot of cattle movement in communal areas owing largely to drought particularly in Matabeleland North and South provinces.

Since August 2001, the department has purchased three million doses of vaccines.

"Our requirement is large," he said. "Gokwe, Lupane, Matebeleland North and South, Gwanda . . . cattle in all these areas need to be re-vaccinated."

He expressed gratitude for the support Zimbabwe is receiving from countries within the region in the fight against trans-boundary animal diseases.

"Countries in the region have been very supportive," Dr Hargreaves said. "The Sadc Council of Ministers and institutions in the region, have been very receptive and supportive to giving assistance to Zimbabwe."

He said directors of veterinary services from within the Sadc region will meet in the capital this week to discuss regional problems and map out a strategy and a budget to help contain animal diseases in the sub region. Beef exports to the European Union, pork and dairy product exports were banned following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in some parts of Matabeleland North province two years ago.

Zimbabwe has an annual export quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef to the EU which earns the country about $2bn in foreign currency.

However, beef exports to regional markets such as Libya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malaysia were still going on.