A SUSPECTED outbreak of the deadly Newcastle disease has been reported in the Midlands district of Mvuma with farmers having already lost a number of chickens in the past six days.Some farmers who spoke to Southern Eye said the disease had wiped out chickens from several homesteads, leaving the chicken runs virtually empty in the past few days.
They said the chickens were showing signs of watery droppings, mucus and ruffled feathers which are synonymous with the symptoms of the disease.
Newcastle disease is a contagious viral bird disease affecting domestic and wild avian species.
“I lost entirely all my road runners as I was running a chicken project to cushion me against the harsh economic environment. I had about 55 birds that have all been wiped out.
The birds had low appetite for both food and water while they had high mucus and watery waste,” said Kingstone Kanyile from Mvuma’s ward 13.
Thasisio Manyemba, another farmer from Drink Water plot in the same ward said he had also lost several birds in the past few days and suspected it could be Newcastle.
“I am not the only one who has lost so many birds in a similar way in this area. In this community almost all the people who rear chickens are losing their birds on a daily basis and in huge numbers,” he said.
Manyemba said the veterinary officers they approached in the area suspected that the disease could be Newcastle.
“The officers said they have reported the matter to their superiors but are yet to get vaccines that they need to use in trying to contain the problem,” said Manyemba.
Midlands veterinary officer Munyaradzi Chigiji confirmed that there were fears of the Newcastle outbreak in Mvuma based on the reports from farmers, but said it was premature to confirm if indeed it was the deadly disease because laboratory tests were yet to be completed.
“We have received reports of complaints from farmers that their birds are dying mysteriously and that they suspect it’s Newcastle. We have now collected samples and sent them to the laboratory for tests, but results are not yet out. It is when the results have come out that we can know if indeed it is Newcastle,” he said.
The disease is usually spread by direct physical contact with infected birds. The virus is found in manure and is breathed out into the air. No treatment for the disease exists, but the use of prophylactic vaccines and sanitary measures reduces the likelihood of outbreaks.