July 2, 2018
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFS) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations last Friday, June 29th confirmed outbreak of an unknown animal disease suspected to be ‘Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) in Kenema, Moyamba, Port Loko and Kabia districts.
Speaking during a presser at the Conference Room of MAFS, District Livestock Officer in Kenema District, Brainard Abu, revealed that on 18 June scores of Livestock were reported dead in the district.
Abu told newsman that they advised livestock owners to separate healthy animals from those already showing signs of the unknown disease and not to eat those that have already dead.
He narrated that on June 21, a team from MAFS, Njala University and FAO visited the village where the outbreak was first reported, collected blood and swap samples of the affected animals and took them to the laboratory at Njala University. He added that they are still waiting for the result.
Roland Suluku, Senior Lecturer at the Animal Science Department, Njala University, who was part of the team that visited the village, said the strange PPR diseases was first discovered in Sierra Leone in 2002, just after the end of the civil war.
He said the team had also travelled to Moyamba district, where they discovered that some animals had been dying since March, adding that they took blood samples from those animals.
However, the varsity lecturer lamented that equipment for the blood test have expired, although a replacement would arrive today, adding that they would then perform the test and establish the kind of disease outbreak.
He said PPR outbreak often occurs between November to April when animals move freely.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and Food Security, Sam-king Koihinah Braima, said they were alerted about the outbreak in livestock communities in early June, and that the Head of Livestock in the ministry setup a taskforce to visit the affected communities.
Braima said the taskforce returned from the fact finding visit and reported the death of scores of animals, particularly goats and that they also held a meeting with FAO to discuss the outbreak.
He said the Livestock Department has since put the animals in the affected areas in quarantine until the outcome of the blood test.
He confirmed the outbreak had spread to Port Loko and Kambia districts after it was first reported in Kenema and Moyamba districts.
He said the ministry had designed a mechanism to ensure that future outbreaks would be communicated promptly, and to allow responsible parties to move in quickly and address the situation, and also build good surveillance mobility to monitor the Livestock community.