The move by the Trans-Nzoia County government to stop livestock auctions following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in parts of the North Rift is a commendable and welcome step.
We support the efforts undertaken by county officials to enforce a quarantine by halting the movement of livestock in the area so as to prevent further spread of the disease until it is contained.
Given that other counties in the North Rift, including Uasin Gishu, have also reported similar cases we aver that it is an opportune moment for the State agencies responsible to tackle the outbreak swiftly.
We also call on the Livestock Development ministry to address claims raised by county officials about the efficacy of the vaccines distributed by the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute for treatment of the livestock.
If true, it would indeed be foolhardy to supply vaccines that cannot ably tackle the infectious viral disease that poses a threat to both livestock and humans. Humans can be infected through contact with infected livestock, hence the urgent need to totally contain the outbreak by preventing its spread.
With foot and mouth disease cases having been reported since last year, may be it is now time that the national government addressed calls by veterinary practitioners to roll out a new type of oil-based vaccine that is said to be effective and cheaper.
Though the new oil-based vaccine is said to have been manufactured by the veterinary agency in 2017, a a tug of war between senior government officials in the Ministry of Agriculture and the agency is said to have stalled its rolling out leading to its expiry.
The subsequent delay has been blamed for subjecting farmers to high costs in protecting their animals from the disease.
Experts argue that the oil-based vaccine is appropriate as it’s only used on animals once a year as opposed to the water-based variety, which requires the livestock to be vaccinated twice a year leading to higher costs for the farmers. It costs a farmer Sh200 to treat an animal if the exercise is being conducted by the government while private veterinarians charge Sh500.
We urge the State agencies to work together in a finding an affordable and efficient treatment regime that will help our farmers to tackle the deadly disease.