By Ndungu Gachane
Livestock farmers in Muranga are counting massive loss after the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease commonly known as (FMD).
The most devastating thing about the disease is that even as farmers continue grappling and staring at losses, the affected domestic animals had already been vaccinated and can’t comprehend why their livestock have been infected and died.
The contagious disease, which causes mouth ulcers and foot lesions in cattle, goats and sheep, has killed dozens of animals in Muranga with the worst hit villages being Turu Turu (Kigumo) Gitugi (Mathioya) Maragi (Kiharu) Iyego (Kangema) Naaro (Kandara and Makuyu in Maragua Sub County.
The disease is spread through direct contact with infected animals and materials such as fodder and vehicles; through breathing of infected aerosols; milk; semen and ingestion of meat from infected animals.
It is characterised by high fever, loss of appetite, salivation, limping, oral wounds and death in young animals.
A farmer in Maragi has lost his 8 grade cows that he relied on to sell milk to feed his family of 5 during the Covid-19 pandemic and has been left to seek casual labour to feed his family.
Another farmer in Punda Milia in Maragua known as Simon Kimani sobs as he narrates how his herd of grade cows succumbed from the disease even after trying to seek for containment measures.
“As a responsible farmer I had ensured that my cows were vaccinated two months ago but I can’t explain how they got the disease,” he says as wonders the next move.
His neighbour Martha Wangari had also ensured that her cattle was vaccinated but all of them died after being infected with the disease.
The disgruntled farmers now fear that vaccinating their cattle could only worsen the matter and some of them like Ms Rahab Njoki opine that vaccinating their cattle could be a sure bet of exposing their livestock to the disease.
“How come my livestock is yet to be vaccinated and they don’t have the disease, those getting infected are the already vaccinated ones,” she says.
They now want the County Government to look at the vaccines in the market to check whether there could be fake vaccines and to arrest the situations before it gets out of hand.
However, Muranga County CEC for Agriculture Albert Mwaniki said the devolved unit has set aside Sh10 million for vaccinating livestock against the disease.
The disease comes when pig farmers are yet to recover after losing their pigs due to swine flu which attacked villages of Gaturi, Mumbi, Maragi Maragua Ridge among others.
An accomplished farmer known as Mwalimu Marmu lost his 2500 pigs as George Kimani who works for Kameme Kayu Kamuingi lost his herd at Mumbi village.