An outbreak of heartwater disease has left at least 70 cattle dead in Orom East sub county, Kitgum district. According to residents, the disease was first noticed in the area in April.
Heartwater is an infectious, noncontagious, tick-borne disease of ruminants. It is regarded as one of the commonest diseases of livestock in Africa, which considerably decreases productivity in areas where it is prevalent.
The average incubation period of the infection is taken to be between 14 days in small ruminants and 18 days in cattle.
Johnson Nakule, a resident of Loperu village in Akurumor parish, said his family lost six animals to the disease. Nakule said the disease burns the liver and lungs of the affected animals.
Grace Auma, a resident of Akilok South village, Okuti parish said the disease has been killing animals in the area for the past four months. Auma says that although the disease did not infect her animals, it killed two of her neighbor’s cattle.
Francis Lunyia, the councilor of Akurumor parish said the disease attacked his herd two months ago and killed 10 out of 14 cattle he had. Lunyia said the infection makes the affected animals move in circles before they finally die.
Lunyia blames the persistent infection on the lack of veterinary doctors in the newly created sub-county, saying farmers are only guessing the name of the disease.
David Kidega, a private veterinary doctor in the neighboring Orom sub-county, acknowledged the presence of the disease. Kidega said the animal is caused by ticks, because the majority of farmers don’t like spraying their animals.
Kidega said the disease is persistent because it is hard to detect, and even farmers who find out early enough take long to consult a doctor.
He however said spraying the animals against ticks and early treatment save the animals.