Minister explains cause of blindness among cows in Isingiro

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Speaking to New Vision, Ssempija revealed that the animals were blinded after being affected by East Coast Fever (ECF) which is caused by ticks.

AGRICULTURE  CATTLE

Following reports that over 300 cows had gone blind in Isingiro district due to use of fake acaricides, the Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Vincent Ssempija has explained the cause.

Speaking to New Vision, Ssempija revealed that the animals were blinded after being affected by East Coast Fever (ECF) which is caused by ticks.

“We instituted investigations and preliminary investigation findings from the department of animal health show that the animals became blind after getting affected by ECF,” Ssempiija said.

He noted that it is not true as reported that the animals became blind as a result of using unlicensed acaricides.

“If it were the acaricides, even the local breeds would be affected. However, it is only the exotic breeds that are getting blind because of the reaction to ECF,” Sempiija said.

He explained that a conclusive report will be made available after the final findings.

The issue of animals getting blind was first reported in February when the matter was raised by the Isingiro district LC5 chairperson Jeremiah Kamurari.

ECF caused by Theileria Parva Parva is transmitted among cattle by the brown ear tick (Rhipicephalus appendiculatus).

Bright Rwamirama, the state minister for animal husbandry explains that his cows were also affected yet he used the right acaricide.

“I have like nine exotic cows which have been affected. They are blind yet I did not use any concoctions. I believe it is ECF,” Rwamirama says.

Rwamirama confirms that his local herd was not affected by the blindness.

When cows are affected by ECF, they become ataxic, have empty chewing movements, twitching of the eyelids, circling, aggression, apparent blindness, convulsions, and animals will often become recumbent shortly before death.

For a long time ticks have become one the most problematic pests on dairy farms despite the presence of various acaricides in the market.

Most farmers use poor tick control methods, which include failure to spray as recommended, making the parasites develop resistance to acaricides.

Source: New Vision