TICK-BORNE diseases, chief among them Theileriosis, have claimed 1 478 head of cattle in January, marking the lowest figure in three years.
This is a decline from the 2 772 cattle that had succumbed to tick-borne diseases same time in January last year.
This year, 3 165 cases of tick-borne diseases have been recorded in January, while during the same period last year, 4 340 cases.
In November 2019, 1 133 cattle died, while 1 903 died in November 2020.
The Department of Veterinary Services chief director, Dr Josphat Nyika confirmed the decline in the cattle deaths due to tick-borne diseases attributing it to the interventions by Government through the Presidential Tick Grease Blitz programme.
He urged farmers to continue collecting grease from their nearest Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots and use it responsibly.
“There has been a decline in cattle deaths due to tick-borne diseases following the launch of the Presidential blitz tick grease input scheme,” said Dr Nyika. “Many cattle are now protected against tick-borne diseases.
“Compared to the previous rainfall season, few cattle became sick and fewer cattle died from tick borne diseases following the launch of the programme in the 2020/2021 agricultural season. There is significant improvement in the tick borne diseases burden and deaths.”
Dr Nyika said the true impact of the programme would be clearer at the end of the rainy season.
“It is too early to quantify the magnitude of the improvement,” he said. “The community, local leadership and stakeholders are actively involved in the distribution of tick grease from GMB depots to the beneficiaries.
“It has also emerged that where tick grease has reached the beneficiaries, the turnout of farmers collecting their allocation is very high. However, the current incessant rains are slowing down the distribution of the tick grease from GMB depots to the beneficiaries, as most areas are inaccessible.”
For years, smallholder farmers have lost cattle — a valuable asset — due to tick-borne diseases particularly January Disease (Theileriosis) leading to impoverishment and loss of wealth.
The tick grease programme, which will be used in-between dipping sessions, is set to benefit one million households.