15 Aug 2013 10:10
By Pearl Coetzee
WINDHOEK, 15 AUG (NAMPA) - Farmers are being urged to be vigilant and to report any suspicions about the presence of the Pan-tropical blue tick, or Rhipicephalus microplus (formerly known as Boophilus microplus) in their cattle.
This announcement comes after South African scientists detected the disease-carrying Pan-tropical blue tick in Namibia for the first time, according to research by Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) student Nkululeko Nyangiwe of the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology (DCEE) at Stellenbosch University.
The finding was reported in South African newspaper Business Day earlier this month.
Approached for comment on Thursday, the Chief Veterinary Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF)s Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS), Dr John Shoopala told Nampa that the discovery of the Pan-tropical blue tick in Namibia poses a production loss risk to the livestock industry.
Although there are no trade barriers associated with the presence of ticks in Namibia, the impact on production will be felt by the producers. Thus, with livestock being the main contributing sector to the agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the presence of this invasive tick in the country is an unwelcome occurrence in this industry, Shoopala cautioned.
The main economic losses are caused by hide damage, anaemia and decreased production, especially when heavily-infested and animals concentrate on the ticks instead of grazing, and transmission of diseases such as babesiosis (a malaria-like parasitic disease) and anaplasmosis (an infectious blood disease in cattle).
Shoopala said cattle are mostly affected, but sheep and goats are also susceptible.
The control measures are also laborious, because treatment with acaricide does not provide resistance to tick reinfestation onto the animal.
The Chief Veterinary Officer also warned that resistance to these drugs can hamper the effective control of the ticks.
Despite the discovery of the Pan-tropical blue tick in Namibia being in the forefront of the news, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has no clear indication about where the study was conducted, and which farms the ticks were found on.
Shoopala said the study conducted by the South African researcher indicated that the Pan-tropical blue tick was present on four of 18 privately-owned farms sampled in Namibia during the study.
The tick was discovered amongst other ticks endemic to Namibia, and is suspected to have originated from South Africa in recent years, possibly through the trading of livestock, which was banned in 2010 because of a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in that country, he noted.
The tick is also present in other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries like Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Shoopala further recommended control measures for farmers, such as treating all newly-acquired animals on arrival at their farms, followed by a quarantine period of three to four weeks, and a second treatment prior to release on the farm.
Farmers are also advised to restrict the movements of their animals during the dry months as a measure of reducing tick transmission between animals. Infested pastures should also be well-rested after the treatment of infested animals.
Without the partial distribution, the DVS cannot predict the economic implication with certainty. At least if there was a clear indication about which farms were affected, suitable control measures could be put in place.
However, the advice to producers would be to apply the general tick control programmes with topical acaricides like Ivermectin and Doramectins, he added.