TheCattleSite.com - news, features, articles and disease information for the cattle industry

News

Cattle Deaths Spike as Wet Weather Sets in

17 September 2018

ZIMBABWE - A combination of late, heavy rains and a shortage of cattle dip has contributed to a rise in tick-borne diseases in Zimbabwe this year, a government official said.

According to The Standard, experts say that as climate change brings more extreme and uncertain weather, as well as warmer conditions in many places, concerns about such pest outbreaks are growing.

Figures released by the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services (DLVS) showed tick-borne diseases killed 3,430 cattle between last November and May — nearly twice as many as died during the same period in 2013/14.

DLVS director Josphat Nyika said the incidence of the most lethal tick-borne killer — called theileriosis, also known as January disease — had shown a sharp increase.

About half of the tick-borne fatalities — some 1,751 cattle — succumbed to theileriosis in this period, he said. That is nearly seven times as many cattle as were lost to the disease in the previous period, according to government figures.

“The wet and warm weather contributed to rising cases of tick-borne diseases as the rainy season progressed into May this year,” Mr Nyika said.

And, he added, a shortage of foreign currency meant Zimbabwe had imported less cattle dip — known as acaricide — leaving the country facing “a serious shortage” of the tick killer.

The solution, he said, was for farmers to dip their cattle regularly as acaricides became available, and to refrain from moving their cattle illegally from one area to another “as this will result in the spread of ticks”.

In Zimbabwe’s rural communities, cattle are a common source of wealth — and draught power — and about 90 per cent of the country’s nearly 5.5 million cattle are owned by small-scale farmers, the government said.

Washington Zhakata, climate change management director in the Environment, Climate and Water ministry, said not much in-country research had been done on a possible link between climate change and tick diseases.

But, he added, evidence from other countries showed that warming has let ticks expand into previously inhospitable areas.

Higher temperatures, he said, meant Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands would now be suitable for cattle farming, and that would likely see the arrival of ticks.

“Ticks survive on blood and can thus follow the animal,” Mr Zhakata told Reuters. That makes changing weather linked to climate change an “indirect cause” of their spread, he said.

Koos Coetzer, professor emeritus at the Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, told the local Farmer’s Weekly magazine in January 2017 that more rain would mean a rise in diseases caused by ticks and mosquitoes in livestock.

And research published last year in SciTechnol, an online scientific journal, established that global warming might allow some tick species to thrive in areas in which they previously could not survive.

TheCattleSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock



Our Sponsors

Partners


Seasonal Picks