Government has warned those involved in selling the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine, saying this is illegal and they risk being prosecuted.
The warning was sounded by Bright Rwamirama, the State Minister for Animal Husbandry during a press briefing on Thursday.
“We have paid for the extension services. The District Veterinary Officers (DVOs) and veterinary officers are paid by government. There’s nobody who is importing the vaccine except government. No company has been allowed to import the vaccine. It’s only Ministry of Agriculture and National Drug Authority. So, anyone selling this vaccine is committing a crime,” Rwamirama said.
“It’s therefore important for the country to know that FMD vaccine is free and it is compulsory. Any farmer who does not vaccinate their animals shall be charged because he poses a risk of infecting other animals”.
“I warn those practicing and Local Governments who are imposing fees on the vaccine, that soon or later, they will be caught within the web of the law”.
He also issued guidelines on slaughtering of animals during this period – when the country is responding to the Coronavirus pandemic and when some parts of the country are under FMD quarantine.
The Minister explained that dealing with zoonotic diseases (diseases that pass from an animal or insect to humans), requires extra caution. Currently, all livestock markets are under lockdown (due to Covid-19), “so we don’t expect people to take cows to the market”.
The Minister says in areas that are not under FMD quarantine, the sale of animals must be directly from the farm to the abattoir. Owners must inform local authorities who will then provide a proof of ownership as well as a movement permit. This is to curb theft of animals.
“In areas which are under FMD quarantine, we don’t sell and we neither transport animals from or through that area. It is a law,” he said.
The Minister added that transportation of animals (in areas where there is no FMD quarantine) must be done humanely, animals must be treated with compassion and adequate spacing should be observed in order to safeguard animal rights.
Such transportation requires approval from the DVO who will issue a permit from area of origin and that from destination area.
Government also issued guidelines for sale of meat, underscoring the need for sellers to observe hygiene as well as ensuring buyers adhere to social distancing rules.
“All animals handlers during loading, offloading, transportation, slaughter, must wear appropriate personal protective equipment – overall, apron and gumboots. We are dealing with zoonosis, so, if the person slaughtering is not protected, he can spread the disease to the consumers if he has COVID-19”.
He said animal handlers should wash hands with soap before and after handling animals, on entry and exit of the farm, and clean their wear with disinfectant before proceeding to the next farm to prevent transmission.