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Plague hits sheep, goats in Burundi, says report



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A sheep and goat plague (also called Peste des Petits Ruminants) has killed 3,337 goats in Burundi, the East African Community’s latest report shows.

The plague is a highly contagious animal disease affecting small ruminants, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The virus can infect up to 90 per cent of an animal herd, and kill between 30 and 70 per cent of infected animals.

Some of the goats killed were among 5,438 distributed by the government to farmers, as part of the Lake Victoria Environment Management Project II financed by the World Bank.

The report says the death of the imported male goats hinted a possible breach in vaccination protocols in Uganda, where they were sourced.

However, experts from the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health note that the presence of the disease in Burundi before the large outbreak could not be ruled out either.

Besides this plague, the region has of late been beset by many transboundary animal and plant pests and diseases such as Rift Valley Fever and the fall armyworm, yet there is no mechanism for harmonising control strategies and co-ordinating interventions with neighbouring partner states.

“EAC partner states need to work together to address transboundary diseases and pest threats,” a report of Permanent Secretaries to the EAC Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security suggests.

In February, the World Bank conducted a mission alongside the FAO and World Organisation for Animal Health to collect information and identify technical and financial options to support the government of Burundi.

On March 2, the World Bank approved a $2.8 million emergency response mechanism through the Contingency Emergency Response Component of the Great Lakes Regional Integrated Agriculture Development programme.

By May 30, over three million goats and sheep, the country’s entire stock of small ruminants, were vaccinated.

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