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County reeling under an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease

An  outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) has been confirmed in Marsabit County amid revelations of an acute shortage of vaccines against the contagious disease.

The  Marsabit Livestock and Fisheries Department Chief Officer, Dr Bokhu Botha said the latest incident of the outbreak was reported three days ago in Qubi Qallo and Badasa areas in Saku Sub-county.

Dr. Botha said on Tuesday on the telephone that cyclic droughts experienced in the region have greatly contributed to the prevalence of the disease, adding that the situation was bound to adversely affect the backbone of the county’s economy, livestock keeping.

The chief officer said the county government was at present coping with a serious Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine crisis leading to quarantine measures in affected areas like Saku, Moyale and Laisamis.

He added that the shortage of vaccines has seen an active quarantine remain in force since an outbreak was reported in December 2019 in Saku in an effort to contain the spread of the disease.

Dr. Botha disclosed that steps to contain the disease by the county government were frustrated by the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI) which allegedly supplied contaminated livestock vaccines.

“KEVEVAPI  delivered  FMD vaccines  which ordinarily is pink in colour to us, but upon arrival the batch supplied began changing from yellow and to orange in colour which aroused suspicion,” he said.

The supplier according to the chief officer blamed high temperatures, but a replacement of the consignment exhibited the same qualities putting its efficacy into question.

Dr. Botha called for investigations into the production of vaccines at KEVEVAPI, saying the quality and standards were questionable.

Yesterday, the  Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Peter Munya announced the government’s plan to roll out an all-inclusive Foot and Mouth Disease vaccination exercise across the country.

Munya  who  was touring Laisamis sub-county to assess progress in the on-going desert locusts control said the national government wanted to boost the strength of devolved units in tackling the disease.

The government also plans to set up a veterinary laboratory at Laisamis Technical Training Institute in order to enhance research and prevention of livestock diseases in the region.

By  Sebastian  Miriti

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