Livestock farmers in Nakuru County have been advised to desist from grazing their cattle near Lake Nakuru National Park to avoid exposing them to a rare lethal disease derived from buffaloes.
County Director for Veterinary Services, Dr Onesmous Getui, said the park has a large number of buffaloes which are natural carriers of an infection known as Corridor Disease (CD) that is transmitted to cattle by ticks.
He said the symptoms were similar to the East Coast Fever (ECF) disease transferred between cattle by ticks but cautioned that there were no rapid diagnostic methods to differentiate the two.
Dr Getui said the scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute carried out a five-year study and came up with a more detailed description of the disease.
He added that the Corridor Disease and ECF are related, because both are caused by the Theileria parva, a parasite transmitted by ticks. However, CD was transmitted from buffaloes, while ECF was transmitted from other cattle, and was less lethal, since it can easily be managed by acaricides and vaccinations.
However, Dr Getui said the CD disease was not a threat to the livestock as long as farmers avoid grazing their animals at national parks, sanctuaries and game parks.
Five years ago, a number of buffaloes at Lake Nakuru National Park died of anthrax and since then the electric fence at the park has been reinforced.
Dr Getui further said since the majority of the farmers in the county preferred dairy animals, there was less chances of them being allowed to loiter around seeking for pasture.
He explained there were still chances of cattle contracting the corridor disease as long as farmers make the mistake of grazing the animals close to the park’s fence.
A livestock farmer at Mbaruk village, Mrs Mary Mbogo, confirmed they are aware that the mixing of their domestic animals with wild animals was dangerous since the former cannot withstand the close transmission of diseases with the latter.
By Veronica Bosibori