How Yobe livestock farmers lost scores of animals to disease

Livestock owners at Damaturu Livestok market in Yobe State.
Livestock owners at Damaturu Livestok market in Yobe State.

…It’s scary, farmers say

Strange case of foot and mouth disease ravaging animals in different parts of Yobe State is scaring livestock farmers in the state.

Cases of the disease were said to have been found in communities in Jakusko, Fune, Nangere, Tarmuwa, Potiskum, Damaturu, Fika and Gulani local government areas of the state.

Breeders from the affected areas told Daily Trust that the scourge manifested shortly after the rainy season and that it had so far claimed many animals.

The Chairman of Kullen Allah Cattle Breeders Association (KACBA) in Fika, Muhammad Alhaji Hassan, said he lost three cows to the disease.

Alhaji Hassan said, “The ‘boru disease’ (foot and mouth disease) was brought into the state by white migratory cattle from Chad and Cameroon through Adamawa. I have never seen this kind of boru disease in camels. It looks like the foot and mouth disease in cows,” he said.

He noted that the contagious disease had within a short period killed animals in Maluri, Gudi, Manawaji and other Fulani settlements.

“Months before now, our animals had suffered from lung disease, and now, it’s boru (foot and mouth disease). It took the intervention of veterinary doctors sent by the state government to curtail the spread of the disease,” he said.

He stated that the disease could have been fatal if not for the Mass Animal Vaccination (MAV) that the livestock received early this year.

A livestock leader in Jakusko, Lamido Manu, said the disease attacked some of their animals, but that no death was recorded.

Manu said the animals had emaciated thereby affecting their productivity and market value.

He said, “ rearing cows is our main business, but people no longer buy them and drink the milk. It’s good that the animals are treated in time,” he said.

The National President of KACBA, Khalil Muhammad Bello, said he had received reports from affected areas and that he had forwarded them to the Yobe State Pilot Livestock Development Programme (PLDP) for immediate action.

“I’m happy to inform you that our people have started receiving drugs and treatment at area offices across the state. Wherever the livestock farmers have problem, they will contact us to link them with the nearest area office for treatment,” he explained.

He said most of the farmers delayed reporting the case to the government, relying on the fact that their animals had been vaccinated, and sometimes resort to local medication.

“When the disease started, they used to grind seeds of acacia (bagaruwa) and apply it to the affected parts of the animals’ feet and mouths, believing that their animals were vaccinated so it might not be the boru disease. That is how they lost many animals to the disease,” he explained.

On how many animals the farmers lost, he said it was not easy to have an instant statistics, but that they had received incidents of over 100 dead animals from the affected locations.

He thanked the state government for timely response, which according to him, averted an epidemic that would destroy the livelihood of millions people in the state.

The Project Manager of the Yobe State PLDP, Malam Mustafa, said the laboratory test conducted on infected animals confirmed that the disease was foot and mouth disease and Contagious Bovine Plueropneumonia (CBPP), also known as lung plague.

He said when the cases were reported, he dispatched a Rapid Response Team (RRT) to the affected areas to ascertain the veracity of the reports.

“They collected the blood samples of the infected animals which we took to laboratory in Vom in Plateau State and the result confirmed that it was foot and mouth disease and CBPP (lung plague),” he explained.

The programme manager said the diseases were brought into the state by sick migratory animals from Adamawa and Taraba states.

He said proactive measures had been taken to re-vaccinate animals in the state and that control points would be provided at every entry point to Yobe to quarantine migratory animals and ensure that they were fit before allowing them access to the state.

He said henceforth the state entry points in Fika, Gulani, Nangere and Jakusko would strictly prevent migratory animals’ entry unless vaccinated, adding that most of the migrating herdsmen don’t bother to vaccinate their animals.

The Head of Animal Health, Yobe Livestock Development Programme (YLDP), Dr. Idris Madaki, observed that the foot and mouth disease was transported into Yobe, which is a transit route between Niger Republic and southern parts of the country.

“That is why we are up-to-date on the free animals’ vaccination to prevent our livestock from the sick animals coming in with trans-boundary diseases.

“As you are aware, we must abide by the ECOWAS treaty of free movement of these livestock, but that does not mean we should allow sick animals to come and pollute our environment,” he warned.

He added that the migration of the sick livestock to Yobe was further aggravated by the middle belt crises in Taraba, Benue and Adamawa states, and that was why the vast grazing reserves of Yobe had now become a haven for herders.

He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to look into the plight of animal rearers in Yobe with a view to supporting the state government in the provision of drugs, vaccines, fodder and any other thing that would improve the economic potential of livestock farming in the state.

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