Nakuru County to vaccinate 400,000 animals

Nakuru County government is in a vaccination rush to save more than 400,000 heads of livestock following cases of a deadly viral infection being reported in the region.

A team of veterinary officer are crisscrossing affected regions with the free vaccination against lumpy skin disease, which has been reported in Gilgil and Naivasha sub-counties.

Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Executive Stephen Chepkwonyi has asked farmers to cooperate with the officer to control the disease, from spreading to other regions, including Nakuru National Park. The executive said at least 5,000 cattle have been vaccinated adding that the county aims to administer the preventive drug to about 300,00 others.

According to United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organiation (FAO), the disease, can cause massive losses as a result of ruminant livestock succumbing to dehydration, and starvation due to dismal appetite.

Outstanding symptoms include depression and discharge from nose, eyes and mouth due to nodules in the mentioned parts.

It may cause abortion for in-calf cows while infected bulls may not serve females for days because of excessive pain on their sheath.

“Farmers should take their animals to vaccination centres to help us contain further spread. Before death, there is decreased milk output. Growths around the neck, genitalia, tail, fever, depression, among others should should worry a farmer,” the executive said.

The exercise will also be done throughout the county, which also has farmers moving from one place to another in search of pastures and water. 

FAO warns that lesions in the respiratory system make livestock susceptible to pneumonia attack.

Viral diseases do not have cure, but vaccination can prevent further spread to healthy livestock.

Two vaccines, Neethling and Kenya sheep and goat pox virus have been used widely in Africa with success.

Other than deterioration of the quality of hides and skin, the international food agency says, up to 40 per cent deaths have been linked to the disease.

Although the disease has been confined to African states with the first reported in Kenya being in 1957, livestock movement restriction has not helped in controlling its spread. 

If the Nakuru case is not controlled,  the disease may spread to the national park and attack ruminants such as buffaloes and zebras. The causative agent is called the lump skin disease virus.