Manufacturing of tick-bone disease vaccine begins

THE Department of Veterinary Services has started the manufacturing of the tick- borne disease vaccine under a pilot project which is expected to save and boost livestock production in the country.

This comes as the country has been battling to contain tick-borne diseases that have depleted the national herd.

The department said two vaccines, Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis, are being produced in the country while a third one Theileriosis is still at experimental stage.

Theileriosis is expected to be in use before the upcoming cropping season begins.

In an interview, the director of Veterinary Services Department under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr Jairus Machakwa said the local vaccine production was a shot in the arm in the fight against tick-borne diseases.

“We have started tick-borne disease vaccine production under a pilot project. This coming season, the vaccine hits the market, and it is hoped that the results will be impressive as to cause the Department to scale up the production and rolling out of the vaccine to save our cattle from dying due to tick-borne diseases,” he said.

He also added that Government is developing capacity for the local manufacture of dip chemicals.

“This arrangement will involve Siemens local chemical manufacturers of dip chemicals manufacturing the dip chemicals or acaricide here in our country, for the Department of Veterinary Services. This will improve the availability of dip chemicals, and lower the costs of the same. Other advantages will include improving capacity utilisation of our local industry, employment opportunities for our people including the women and youths, and at a technical level, production of acaricides that address the problems we specifically may meet in our country as we will use our scientists to profile and characterise our ticks and develop the right remedies for the parasites. Toll manufacturing of acaricides is estimated to cut the costs of dipping chemicals by up to fifty percent,” he said.

Dr Machakwa also said dip tank construction and rehabilitation are part of the programme to minimise cattle deaths adding that this winter alone, 211 out of the targeted 400 dip tanks have been rehabilitated, and the numbers are increasing each week.

A blitz tick-grease programme under Presidential Input Scheme has also been running for the past two seasons and has been a game-changer in the fight against January disease (JD) and the programme will continue this season.

Under the programme, a minimum of one million kilogrammes of tick grease will be distributed free of charge to the farmers, wherein each household keeping livestock will receive one kilogrammes of tick grease to supplement and complement the dipping program.

Over the past two agricultural seasons, the dipping programme and the blitz tick grease programme produced great results, with a 47 percent reduction in tick-borne related cattle deaths recorded 2021 when compared to 2020. The livestock growth plan is part of the agriculture food systems transformation strategy which seeks to achieve an US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025 to ensure the attainment of Vision 2030.

During the wet season, animals are susceptible to many challenges, and if a farmer is not careful, they may be killed by various diseases including tick-borne diseases. January Disease is common between December and March and is spread through the bite of the brown ear tick.

Several provinces have been affected by tick-borne diseases, particularly Theileriosis, red water, heartwater, and gall sickness.

Livestock diseases have gone down by 50 percent during the January to April period this year compared to a year earlier following Government’s awareness campaigns to encourage farmers to dip their cattle.

According to a report released by the Ministry, 4 241 tick-borne disease deaths were recorded from January to April this year, compared to 8 328 and 10 774 deaths over the same period in 2020 and 2019, respectively.Herald

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