Mmegi Online :: Rift Valley Fever: It could be catastrophic
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Last Updated
Tuesday 23 May 2017, 16:49 pm.
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Rift Valley Fever: It could be catastrophic

Two weeks ago the Ministry of Agriculture informed the nation that tests it conducted on two animals in Ramotswa's Seribe Crush had shown that the animals were infected with Rift Valley Disease.
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Mmegi Online :: Rift Valley Fever: It could be catastrophic








This is the first time that the country has ever had any reported cases of the disease. The disease, the ministry told the nation, is fatal, not only to livestock and cattle but also to humans. 

The signs of infection in humans include bleeding through the mouth, nose and skin, which can lead to death.While initially the ministry claimed that only two animals were found to be infected, and insisted there was no cause for alarm, another outbreak was reported last week, this time around Kanye.  Does the ministry still maintain there is no need to panic? Our view is that the ministry is not giving this issue enough attention. In fact, this nation might wake up one morning and be told by the ministry that the Rift Valley Fever now affects the entire livestock and cattle farming areas.

That is reason enough for panic. Why? The ministry currently has no vaccine for this disease. God knows if their counterparts at the Ministry of Health even have any treatment for possible human cases.

The ministry said at the time it announced the outbreak in Ramotswa that it was putting restrictions on animal movement in the areas likely to be affected. These included Gaborone, Tlokweng, Kgatleng, South East, Lobatse and the greater Goodhope areas. That the disease was now found in Kanye shows that the restrictions put in place either came too late or have not been effective. It shows that the disease may already affect many other areas.

What that means is that people may already unknowingly be consuming meat from diseased animals. We will be accused of being alarmist, which we are not.  We are simply sensitive to the real possibility that the people of Botswana, including the Ministries of Agriculture and Health, may

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not be aware of the true extent of the spread of the disease and the harm that it could cause to both animals and humans.

How did the Rift Valley Fever travel from Ramotswa to Kanye? It might be the case that before reaching Kanye, it had already travelled through a number of towns and villages: Otse, Mogobane, Molapowabojang, Thamaga, Mankgodi to name but a few.  The disease may even be coming from that direction and the two cases in Ramotswa were only a sign that the disease had spread into that region. This does not seem to be so much a concern for the Ministry of Agriculture.

We are not seeing the ministry's personnel visiting farms and kraals as they normally should especially with Foot and Mouth Disease. While the ministry claims to have restrictions in place, animals are still seen roaming freely in the very areas said to have restrictions.

With the exception of Ramotswa, butcheries still buy and slaughter and transport animals across restricted zones.In a nutshell, more needs to be done to contain the disease.  The ministry must not be reactive but proactive. Information dissemination should form the core of the ministry's efforts to contain the disease; otherwise all attempts will be futile because the public does not have the necessary information to help contain the disease.  We urge the ministry to raise the alert level to maximum. While it continues to do a good job it should also work in concert with other ministries and the public on containing the dreaded Rift Valley Fever.

                                                            Today's thought

"Even in social events we cannot freely eat food without worrying about getting a disease because we do not know where they the meat come from in the first place."

                                                       -Ramotswa resident

 

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