number of suspected cases of Bovine Besnoitiosis (Elephant skin) disease in Oshikango, Ondobe and Okongo constituencies have been reported at Eenhana state veterinary office in Ohangwena region.
The Elephant disease in the Ohangwena region was successfully eradicated 29 years ago, says the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry, Abraham Nehemia.
“At present, there are no effective drugs or vaccines available against bovine besnoitiosis,” says the Acting Permanent Secretary. He said that control measures will be put in place in line with the Animal Health Act (1 of 2011). Nehemia said controlled movement of cattle with a red cross permit in Ohangwena Region will be allowed after the had been inspected by a veterinary official and did not show clinic cases of the disease. “The immediate commencement of besnoitiosis surveillance activities in the Northern Communal areas,” he said, adding that the mounting of possible roadblocks and temporary fences in and around the Ohangwena region. He added that immediate seize, detention and possible slaughter will also be in place.
Nehemia said farmers are requested to herd their cattle for the duration of the current contingency and to immediately report infected or suspicious animals to the nearest state veterinary office. “Clinical cases are easily detectable, whereas sub-clinically infected animals are more difficult to diagnose but they may play an important role in the transmission especially by insects such as biting flies and ticks,” says Nehemia.
“Initially the infection is characterized by high temperature and non-specific signs, such as depression, swelling of superficial lymph nodes and loss of weight,” says Nehemia. He also mentioned that some symptoms could be swelling in the joints that might cause pain during movement and my lead to permanent hind leg lameness. Typical features are progressive thickening, folding or wrinkling of the skin and hair loss.
He added that specific dates for livestock inspections will be announced in due course and the Ministry will continue to monitor the situation and make further announcements on the duration and extent of the contingency as the situation unfolds.