Mashonaland East declares war against “January Disease”

On Thursday the 30th of March 2023, the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Mashonaland East Cde Apolonia Munzverengwi declared a war against Theileriosis. At an awareness raising event coordinated by the Department of Veterinary services and attended by community members, traditional and political leaders, government departments, and livestock health experts, the minister indicated the communities had lost a livelihood and source of income through the death of cattle due to the severe tick borne disease. The event was conducted at Marondera Dip-tank in ward 18 of Marondera District.


She indicated that the Government is joining hands with the communities in the fight against the deadly disease through the launch of various programs targeted at reducing the disease including the Tick grease program. In her address the guest speaker emphasized the importance of plunge dipping as key in fighting the brown ear tick which causes the disease.  At this event the Provincial Minister managed to handover cans of tick grease to all the farmers who managed to turn up to the awareness event. Theileriosis has gained the moniker January Disease due to its elevated prevalence in the Month of January.

The Director of Veterinary Services Dr Nyika who also graced the event provided a brief history of the disease and available to support dealing with the disease. He said Theileriosis is caused by a parasite (Theileria Parva) found in the blood which is transmitted between cattle by ticks. He said the disease is characterized by fever, massive swelling of the lymph nodes, cessation of grazing, discharge from the eyes and nose, loss of body condition, and death.  He added that the hallmark in the control of theileriosis, like all other tick-borne diseases, is to control the tick vector. This can be achieved by regular dipping and the application of tick grease in the ear, under the tail, and tail brush should be done.

Movement of tick-infested animals should be avoided as it spreads the disease to other areas. Movement of sick animals is illegal and so too is the slaughter of such animals for human consumption. Another tool that can be used to control theileriosis is vaccination and the vaccine can be sourced, when available, from the Department of Veterinary Services. Theileriosis can be cured if treatment is administered early. He said it is imperative that a farmer consults veterinary services as early as possible to allow early diagnosis and intervention by veterinary experts. Theileriosis responds to buparvaquone and its derivatives.

Marondera District has not spared by Theileriosis disease with farmers losing drought power, transportation, protein source, income source amongst others to the plague. Currently the district currently has a herd of 68940 cattle.

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