Government has moved to end foot and mouth disease, a contagious viral infection that mostly affects cattle, by conducting a vaccination exercise in the affected areas of Neno and Blantyre districts.
The vaccinations started on Friday in Neno and are free of charge. About ten days ago, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development confirmed suspected cases of the disease in the two districts, six months after the outbreak hit Chikwawa which is one of the districts with a large number of cattle.
The situation compelled the ministry to ban meat and meat products from the area, a development that affected meat supply to other districts by 20 percent.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha said in an interview on Sunday that the vaccinations are in line with his ministry’s pledge to help farmers in Kuthembwe and Lisungwi Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) in
arresting the spread of the disease in the respective districts.
“The situation needed urgent attention. That is why we came as soon as we could,” he said.
Mwanamvekha commended extension workers for their commitment in the vaccination campaign and said government has put in place various measures to prevent the disease from spreading.
The measures include temporary suspension of livestock (cattle, goats, sheep and pig) markets and their slaughtering.
Head of the Department of Animal Science at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources Professor Tefera Melaku emphasised on the need to move quickly to arrest the outbreaks and find a long lasting solution.