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CTA. 2004. Heartwater. Rural Radio Resource Pack 04/03. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57193
Ignatious Ndzinge, a veterinary doctor working in Gaberone, Botswana.
Heartwater Cue: Heartwater is one of the most serious diseases affecting ruminants in sub-Saharan Africa. Transmitted in the bite of a tick, it can cause death within a few days of the first signs of disease appearing. For this reason, farmers whose animals are at risk must be very alert, in order to notice the first sign of the disease - a high temperature. Treatment at this stage with a tetracycline medicine usually saves the animal?s life, but once later signs of the disease begin, such as nervous movements of the eyes and lips, treatment is much less successful. Animals born in areas where heartwater is present generally develop immunity to the disease at an early age. However, any non-immune animal that is brought into a heartwater area is at risk and should be vaccinated. For this reason, pastoralists who move their flocks and herds in search of grazing are at particular risk of losing animals to heartwater, and exotic breeds are also very vulnerable. To find out more about the disease and how farmers can respond to it, Busani Bafana spoke to Ignatious Ndzinge, a veterinary doctor working in Gabarone, Botswana. He began by asking how the disease is transmitted. IN: It is transmitted by what ? OUT: ?the animal will survive.? DUR?N 4?15? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dr Ignatious Ndzinge emphasising the importance of quick treatment to save livestock that show symptoms of heartwater. Transcript Ndzinge It is transmitted by what we call the South African bont tick and this tick is one that actually harbours the parasites that cause heartwater. Bafana What are the signs and symptoms of heartwater? Ndzinge The animal will start looking sick in the sense of malaise and the temperature goes up and the temperature would be about 40ø. As time goes on the animal would have staggering gait and eventually they will fall down and later on they will die. Bafana You also mentioned that there was a rise in temperature. How would I know that, would that be by touching the animal, is there anything physical that can tell me that the animal is suffering from heartwater? Ndzinge The animal would start not eating. I think that is one of the things and then the staggering gait and also you will see the animal actually panting, you would know that it has a very high temperature. Touching alone will not help but if you?ve got a simple thermometer you can put it in the animal?s bum and you will see how high it is. Bafana There is also the issue, doctor, of that animal may not be eating. Would I then see that the animal is losing some weight? Ndzinge No because it is a very very acute disease in the sense that it comes very fast and all of a sudden the animal just goes down, is bumping into fences, trees and things like that. So it is not a disease that you will see gradually the animal losing weight, no. Bafana How can farmers prevent heartwater from spreading once it has been discovered? Ndzinge Dipping is one of the things that you have to do. There?s also a vaccine that they can use especially if you are buying cattle from a non-heartwater area they must be vaccinated against heartwater before they are introduced into the heartwater area. So this is one of the things that the farmers have to do to try and prevent it. But failing that it is dipping. Also the dipping should be strategic in a sense that we don?t want it to kill all the ticks but we also want the animals to be used to the tick bite. Bafana You did talk about vaccines, how accessible are these vaccines to a farmer in a remote area? Ndzinge Unfortunately this vaccine is what we call the blood vaccine which has to be kept under very low temperatures, -18ø and is not always very practical for the farmers to have it spare in remote areas. But it is available, the government of Botswana does make it available and get it transported to most remote areas in the country. But I have to caution that when you are vaccinating you can?t vaccinate pregnant animals because you are actually infecting the animals with the disease and some will abort if they are pregnant. Bafana Can heartwater be passed on to humans, since Botswana is one of the top meat producing nations in southern Africa? Ndzinge No it doesn?t affect humans at all. It is just a disease that affects cattle, sheep and goats and as I say like any other ungulates like those wild animals which look like cattle. Bafana So if I see that my animal is diseased and there is no way of me treating it, I can go ahead and slaughter it? Ndzinge I would never advise people just to slaughter animals and eat it, because you never know sometimes you may be thinking that it is heartwater but it maybe something else. It could be anthrax, it could be another disease that has got the same clinical signs. So I always say when an animal is sick and you slaughter it just burn the carcass. Bafana And lastly doctor you operate in central Gaborone and do you have any outreach programmes where you try and reach the farmers in remote areas? Ndzinge Yes we do that, yes we do go out and talk to farmers and try to educate them about diseases. For example for heartwater we would say that they must always keep Terramycin on their shelves so that when an animal is sick like that they can give you some treatment yes. Bafana Terramycin is a medical chemical I believe but is there any cultural medicine they can use where Terramycin is not available? Ndzinge No I don?t know of any but this drug which is an antibiotic and I think in Botswana everybody knows it as machonazotle it?s a very effective drug to use. If you use it in time the animal will survive. End of track.