Meat vendors and slaughter houses are counting losses running into hundreds of thousands of shillings per day following a ban on trade in animal products.
The ban was effected last week by the Wajir County Government in conjunction with the National Government after several people succumbed to Rift Valley Fever (RVF).
According to the Wajir County Health CEC, Abdihakim Billow, the official death toll among humans is 5 so far.
Some fresh meat vendors have however, condemned the ban and called for thorough inspection of meat by veterinary officials instead.
“We depend on this business to support our families. Meat should be inspected after slaughter and before it is distributed for sale rather than impose a total ban,” suggests Ahmed Bin Omar, a businessman in Wajir town.
According to Mr. Billow, the ban has been extended to the whole county after a marked increase in livestock and human deaths.
Billow said over 40 camels and goats have so far died from the epidemic which has affected mostly Eldas and Wajir West sub counties.
“A task force comprising technical staff from the departments of public health, livestock and the national government has been established to survey and monitor the situation,” Billow told the press in his office in Wajir town on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi met Devolution Cabinet Secretary, Eugene Wamalwa over the weekend to lobby for relief food until the ban on animal based food was lifted.
Pastoralism is the main source of livelihood and food in Wajir and the ban is set to hurt the economy.
According health officials, Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes and blood feeding flies that commonly affect cattle and sheep but could also be transmitted to humans.
The Wajir County Veterinary Director, Dr. George Kiprono explained that the virus was first identified in 1931 during an epidemic among sheep on a farm in Rift Valley of Kenya.
“Since then, outbreaks have been reported in sub Saharan Africa, North Africa and in 2000 in Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” added Dr. Kiprono.
By Donald Ngala