MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
OVER FOURTY cattle have died in Sinazongwe district in the last seven days due to the outbreak of babesiosis disease, district commissioner Protacio Mulenga has confirmed.
Babesiosis is a rare, severe and sometimes fatal tick-borne disease caused by various types of Babesia, a microscopic parasite that infects red blood cells.
And the district administration in Sinazongwe has banned the crossing and selling of cattle following reports of the outbreak of the disease.
Speaking in an interview with the Sunday Mail on Thursday, Mr Mulenga said the outbreak is believed to have originated from Mweemba chiefdom.
“It has been reported that most of the cattle from Zimbabwe enter Zambia at Chief Mweemba’s area. Most of the farmers in this part of Sinazongwe do not have dip tanks and rarely treat their cattle. The veterinary department informed me that approximately 50 cattle have died because of babesiosis, a tick-borne disease,” he said.
Mr Mulenga said the district administration has despatched a team of agricultural extension and veterinary officials to ascertain the situation on the ground.
He said tests have been conducted and samples have been sent to Lusaka for more advanced testing.
Mr Mulenga said the villages which have been affected by the outbreak are Namafulo, Sinakobo, Mooka and Kantonga.
“The suspected outbreak has greatly affected the livelihoods of most of our people as you know that the wealth and agricultural productivity of people is cattle. I would also like to take this opportunity to appeal to Zambeef here in Sinazongwe to stop buying cattle from Mweemba chiefdom so that we contain the outbreak, “he said.
Mr Mulenga has also urged villagers in Sinazongwe and Mweemba chiefdoms to out and protect their cattle from contracting the disease.
Meanwhile, Mr Mulenga has appealed to the Road Development Agency (RDA) to tar the 35-kilometre stretch from Maamba to Namafulo border to promote tourism and boost economic activity in the district.