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Launch of a cattle vaccination campaign against symptomatic anthrax

Launch of a cattle vaccination campaign against symptomatic anthrax

20/02/2019

FAO, in partnership with the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, has launched a cattle vaccination campaign in the provinces of Kwilu and Kwango in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The objective is to address the outbreak of the symptomatic anthrax, which has caused the loss of more than 3 000 cattle.

In rural areas, milk and meat are not only essential sources of protein and nutrients, but also important sources of income. Papy Misolo, a cattle farmer living in Kwilu province, explains: “Raising cattle allows me to pay for my children’s school and healthcare fees. When I have enough animals, I can sell some to buy other food, like cassava and maize. Unfortunately, my animals started to get sick. They couldn’t move properly and they stopped eating. I went from owning 60 to 20 animals within a week’’, explains Papy.

Prevent, detect and respond

Alerted by cattle farmers, the agents of the central veterinary laboratory of Kinshasa conducted an on-site mission to collect samples from the sick cattle. The results of the analysis confirmed the presence of the infectious disease of anthrax. Although the disease cannot be transmitted to humans, it causes significant economic losses linked to  the very high mortality risks. The animal can die within 48 hours after having been infected, and it is common to find animals already dead before being able to administer treatment.

In order to control the spread of the disease, FAO's Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) trained 40 veterinary officers in the provinces of Kwilu and Kwango to monitor the disease, carry out vaccination of cattle and antibiotic treatment of sick animals.

Despite the poor condition of rural feeder roads, veterinary officers visited Papy's farm. On site, Papy was able to help the vets by gathering his cattle in a holding pen. One after the other, each animal was vaccinated thanks to the equipment provided by FAO.

‘’I am pleased that several other cattle farmers benefited from this support. We will thus be able to reduce the risk of disease transmission in our communities’’, added Papy. The vaccination campaign was launched in the areas at higher risk of disease outbreak. Over a period of ten days, a total of 2 000 cattle were vaccinated. Following the end of the campaign, no new cases have been reported.

Reducing hunger by 2030

FAO is working, with the support of the Government of the United States, to strengthen the capacity of the veterinary laboratory of Kinshasa in animal disease detection and diagnosis. This will improve the diagnosis of diseases in the laboratory and will enable a quicker and more effective response. Keeping animals alive and healthy is an important factor in reducing hunger and malnutrition by 2030. FAO works with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to improve governance in the fisheries and livestock sector.

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