Rwanda is set to embark on a countrywide vaccination of pigs as it seeks to protect them from swine erysipelas, a bacterial infection that has affected the animals in parts of the country.
It was first detected in the country in Nyagatare, Kirehe, Kicukiro, Gasabo, and Rwamagana districts, but has now spread to other parts of the country.
The vaccine for the swine erysipelas infection was shipped into the country this week, and the vaccination drive will soon kick-of, as the government moves fast to avert a possible public health problem as a result of people consuming contaminated pork.
“The vaccine has arrived, and we are planning to carry out a mass vaccination straight away, starting with the infected ones,” said Fabrice Ndayisenga, the head of animal resource research and technology transfer at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB).
“Testing is for free for all sick pigs and pigs suspected of having the disease and those with tangible symptoms of swine erysipelas”.
The EastAfrican’s sister publication Rwanda Today recently broke a story of some errant pig farmers who sold infected pigs cheaply to avoid total losses.
Following this, the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) warned farmers against selling infected animals.
Swine erysipelas is caused by the bacterium Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, found in growing pigs, and characterised by fever, skin lesions, and sudden death.
Mr Ndayisenga urged farmers to adhere to the strict treatment regime, provide biosecurity measures and reinforce inspection by veterinarians. He also called for farmers to control the movement of pigs, especially for those under treatment, to avoid transmission of the disease.
Some farmers have been using Amoxycillin or phenoxy-methyl penicillin put in drinking water, or penicillin injection twice in the first 24 hours and continuing daily injections for three to four days, to treat the disease.
Meanwhile, the RAB “is also reinforcing control and preventive measures of ASF (African Swine Flu)”, following an outbreak in neighbouring Tanzania, Mr Ndayisenga said.
The ASF is a dangerous disease that does not have treatment or a vaccine.
“Our farmers are now aware of the disease and the way it should be prevented for instance not using catering waste. There is no importation of pork from Tanzania, but we are still reinforcing controls at the borders at Rusumo,” Mr Ndayisenga said.
At least 500 pigs have been killed by the African Swine Fever in Tanzania’s northern district of Kahama in the Shinyanga region, according to Tanzanian officials.
Reports indicate that the disease broke out in the region in late December and district authorities have since banned the sale of pork to protect consumers.
Officials in Tanzania say the affected district authorities are working in collaboration with the central government to ensure that the disease is controlled before it spreads to neighbouring districts and regions.
It is the first significant ASF outbreak in the country since March 2018 when the disease claimed the lives of more than 900 pigs in the southern Tanzania region of Ruvuma.