Kano Herders Lament As Disease Outbreak Kills Many Cows

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An outbreak of cattle disease called Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) has occurred in Kano State, killing many cows.

The chairman of Dairy and Livestock Husbandry Cooperative Union in the state, Usman Abdullahi, stated this in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday.

CBPP is a disease of cattle and water buffalo caused by Mycoplasma mycoides. It attacks the lungs and the membranes that line the thoracic cavity, causing fever and respiratory signs such as laboured or rapid respiration, cough and nasal discharge.

The transmission arises through intimate contact between infected and susceptible cattle due to the inhalation of infected droplets released during coughing or in nasal discharges from infected animals.

It was first reported in Nigeria in 1924. It was said that between 1924 and 1960, an average of 200 outbreaks occurred each year mainly in Borno and Kano provinces of the then Northern Nigeria.

Reports show that the disease was controlled in Nigeria in 1965, but it re-emerged.

Unfortunately, the disease reporting system, which was efficient in the 60s and 70s, witnessed a setback during the 90s. Currently, the disease is under-reported, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

“We are experiencing a major disease outbreak called Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), it is a viral disease that disturbs cows and it is killing so many of our cows currently in Kano State,” Mr Abdullahi told PREMIUM TIMES.

“This is a contagious and virus disease that attacks animals especially cows, it stops the cow from breathing normally, it is a respiratory tract disease.

“I can tell you in a cluster, considering the cooperative level as a cluster because you know the Fulanis are the out-growers and they are living in a clustered settlements, we had an incident that in a particular settlement under Bunkure Local Government of Kano State about 100 cows died within two weeks.

“This happened during the heavy lockdown around March but in April and May, this problem was very heavy in that location,” he said.

“There is a farmer that lost 17, some lost about 20 and some lost five. But the terrible and sad one is a farmer that lost about 50 cows within a short period of time at Bunkure local government of Kano State.”

Mr Abdullahi said the outbreak started between November 2019 and January this year. He said “in anticipation of the outbreak, we were supposed to do the vaccine during the period of January so it will take us year-round without seeing any negative effect.

“But now, since there is no vaccine on the ground, you can see how the problem of the disease escalated and is killing the animals rampantly.”

He said the vaccination is supposed to be done yearly by the government.

“But unfortunately this year round, there was no vaccine commencement from the government side,” he said.

“From the point of our understanding, the vaccination with regards to CBPP over time is being conducted under the state government at the Ministry of Agriculture.

“And this is the same Ministry of Agriculture that we have contacted so far, they are just telling us to be patient,” he said

“So instead of waiting, we have contacted the veterinary, they say they will act on it. They just come and do simple medications and treatments.”

Mr Abdullahi urged the government to send a monitoring team to help the farmers remedy the situation before it escalates and to adhere strictly to routine annual vaccination.

“Secondly, we require maybe putting a monitoring team from the government side to be following up with the farmers at the cluster or at the village level to identify if there are challenges then to provide an immediate remedy or solution before it will escalate to an uncontrolled situation.”

“Then the third one that we are hoping if they can do is to come and collect the data of those that have lost their cows due to this deadly outbreak to pay compensation, i am sure farmers will be happy because a farmer that has 50 cows and he lost 17 is seriously touching his economy.”

“Assume a cow sold at N100,000 roughly; if about 15 is lost, it means that a farmer lost about N1.5 million.

“So take for instance if there are 100 farmers in Kano State, you could imagine how heavy the loss will be,” he said.

He said those affected are mostly peasant farmers.

“These smallholder’s farmers are the grassroots and backbone of this livestock sector and they are the ones that are suffering from lack of extension services, they have limitations in technical know-how,” he said.

He urged the government to ensure extension services delivery to the livestock farmers at the smallholder level. “This is my best advise., he said.

Also speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, Muhammadu Bayiye, a cattle rearer who lost 50 of his cows to the outbreak in the state, lamented how the death of the cows has affected him.

“I discovered that my cows are just dying but this is not the first time this is happening. I lost a total of 50 cows, 40 young ones and 10 big ones to this outbreak within a little period of time,” he said.

Another cattle rearer, Musa Danladi, said there are so many diseases affecting cows but the worst is this CBPP.

“I first lost five of my cows in a day. This happened last month but before I knew it, I lost a total of 15 cows in two weeks,” he said.

An Abuja-based veterinarian, Samuel James, spoke on how the disease affects the cows.

“Definitely when the cows are sick, the (food) intake will reduce and then milk will definitely reduce because there’s no food intake.

“CBPP affects their breathing, you see them gasping for air, they take less food.

“Is a disease that can be handled, if proper measures are put in place.” he said.

PREMIUM TIMES reached out to the Veterinary and Pest Control Services in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) Abuja, the Director Veterinary and Pest Control Services (DVPCS), Olaniran Alabi, told PREMIUM TIMES that he was not aware of the outbreak in Kano.

“The monitoring officer in charge of Kano has not reported to us,” he said on Tuesday.

He promised to put a call across to the Director Veterinary Service (DVS) in Kano, one Mr Bello, to ascertain the situation.

He later suggested that contrary to the claims of the cattle farmers, the Kano government was properly handling the situation.

On Wednesday, Mr Alabi said, “I spoke with the DVS in Kano and what he told me is that there’s an outbreak but not the way you painted it.”

“You see when you have such information like that it is always very important to clarify with the state because he is the Chief Diseases Control Officer.

“In every state we have a director who is in charge of disease control and don’t forget that we have a federal system they now return back to the federal level.

“If they need our additional support to help them respond to some of these things,” he said.

When Mr Bello was contacted on what the state government was doing to assist the farmers, he simply replied with a short message confirming the disease.

“Yes, and I had reported appropriately,” he wrote suggesting he had done his part.

While the state and federal government’s pass the buck, however, the Kano cattle herders continue to count their losses.

“This is one of the most difficult times of my life. It was a great loss to me,” Mr Bayiye said.

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