On 25th August 2021 in Rusizi District, Bweyeye Sector, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board kicked off Black Quarter and Anthrax disease vaccination activity.
On the next day on 26th August, the activity went on in Nzahaha sector. Speaking to breeders, Dr Samson Ntegeyibizaza who is in charge of diseases surveillance in RAB mobilised breeders to avoid cattle movement as a vital method to prevent diseases spreading.
BLACK QUARTER, is an infectious bacterial disease most commonly caused by Clostridium chauvoei, a Gram-positive bacterial species. It is seen in livestock all over the world, usually affecting cattle, sheep, and goats. It has been seen occasionally in farmed bison and deer. The acute nature of the disease makes successful treatment difficult, and the efficacy of the commonly used vaccine is disputed.
When infection begins, the animal may develop a fever, and the affected limb can feel hot to the touch. The limb usually swells significantly, and the animal can develop lameness on the affected leg. Crepitation (the sensation of air under the skin) can be noticed in many infections, as the area seems to crackle under pressure.
Once clinical signs develop, the animal may only live a short while, sometimes as few as 12 hours. Occasionally, cattle succumb to the disease without showing any symptoms, and only a necropsy reveals the cause. During a necropsy, a diagnosis is usually made very quickly, as the affected muscle is usually mottled with black patches, which are dead tissue, killed by the toxins the bacteria release when they infect live tissue. If viewed under a microscope, small rod-like bacteria can be seen to confirm the diagnosis.
VACCINATION AND PREVENTION
The use of a seven-way clostridial vaccination is the most common and cost-effective preventative measure taken against blackleg, but its efficacy is disputed. Burning the upper layer of soil to eradicate left-over spores is the best way to stop the spread of blackleg from diseased cattle. Diseased cattle should be isolated. Treatment is generally unrewarding due to the rapid progression of the disease, but penicillin is the drug of choice for treatment. Treatment is only effective in the early stages and as a control measure.
A serious bacterial infection caused by Bacillus anthracis that occurs primarily in animals. Cattle, sheep, horses, mules, and some wild animals are highly susceptible. Humans and swine are generally quite resistant to anthrax. Humans become infected when the spores of B. anthracis enter the body by contact with animals infected with B. anthracis or from contact with contaminated animal products, insect bites, ingestion, or inhalation.
Signs of the illness usually appear 3 to 7 days after the spores are swallowed or inhaled. Once signs begin in animals, they usually die within two days. Infected animals may stagger, have difficulty breathing, tremble, and finally collapse and die within a few hours. Sometimes animals may have a fever and a period of excitement followed by staggering, depression, unconsciousness (lacking awareness), difficulty breathing, seizures, and death. Dark blood may ooze from the mouth, nose, and anus. Signs in pigs, dogs, and cats may be less serious.
HOW IS ANTHRAX TREATED?
It is usually hopeless to treat animals that are sick. Sometimes, if the disease is detected soon after infection, antibiotics, along with nursing care, may help.
IS AN ANTHRAX VACCINE AVAILABLE?
A vaccine for livestock is commonly used in areas that have anthrax. To be effective, it must be used before the animal is exposed to the bacteria. The vaccine for livestock is not the same as the one for humans. The human vaccine has limited availability, such as for military personnel. No vaccine is available for pets.
CAN INFECTED ANIMALS SPREAD ANTHRAX?
Yes. Handling a dead or sick animal or eating a dead animal infected with anthrax can spread anthrax to humans and other animals. Anthrax is not spread by sneezing or coughing. Person-to-person spread of the disease is unlikely.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE WITH ANIMALS THAT DIE OF ANTHRAX?
Animals that die of anthrax can contaminate the soil with anthrax spores, so the bodies should be burned, not buried.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY ANIMALS AND MYSELF?
Wear a mask and gloves when handling sick or dead animals. Vaccinate livestock as recommended.
Black Quarter and Anthrax diseases vaccination activity is expected to happen countrywide till September this year.