Deadly virus killing cows in Estcourt

2012-11-19 00:00

THE Agriculture Department is to investigate the causes of an infection that is killing large numbers of cows in the Estcourt district.

MEC Meshack Radebe visited the area about two weeks ago following complaints by cattle owners that they were losing livestock to malignant catarrhal fever (MCF), a deadly disease found in wildebeest that is transmitted through the air.

Several areas have reportedly been affected. The KwaZulu-Natal acting manager for state veterinary services, Skhumbuzo Mbizeni, said he will visit the area this week to discuss the matter.

“One man in the area said this year he had lost nine cows, and said there were many other affected people,” he said.

Mbizeni said an infected cow, depending on the viral load of the infection, can take about a week to show signs of sickness. The signs include drooling and weeping eyes. “Once a cow is infected, in severe cases it could take about three days and the cow is down.”

He warned that the meat of infected cows should not be eaten. “Although there have not been any studies done that show that the virus can be transferred to humans, meat from an infected animal should never be eaten.”

Local game farmer Jacques van der Merwe said no one had complained to him. He had heard about the problem and informed Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which told him that his fences are adequate to keep his wildebeest away from cattle in the neighbouring area.

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