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Researchers Demand for Collective Action to Fight Paratuberculosis

The disease is caused by bacterium Mycobacterium avium subspecies. It affects livestock such as cattle sheep and goats.
Anna Rose Okurut, the Commissioner in charge of Animal Health at MAAIF greeting researchers at Protea hotel in Entebbe

Audio 4

Researchers have called for collective action to fight Paratuberculosis, a neglected disease that is threatening livestock in Africa. The disease, caused by bacterium Mycobacterium avium subspecies, affects livestock such as cattle sheep and goats.

The disease is contagious, chronic and sometimes a fatal infection that primarily affects the small intestine of ruminants. It can enter an animal’s body through air or the mouth while eating.

Some of the signs include increased projectile diarrhoea, the loss of weight in cattle and general animal weakness.      

Ahmed Wahed, lead researcher of paratuberculosis from German says, there is need for joint interventions by countries and researchers in Africa to ensure that there is enough awareness about the disease so as to prevent an outbreak of an epidemic.

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Anna Rose Okurut the commissioner animal health in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries says that despite the limited research about the disease in Africa, the diagnosis of animals remains difficult leaving people and the animals susceptible to being infected by the disease.

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Okurut was speaking to a team of researchers from across Africa gathered at Protea Hotel in Entebbe, to strategize on how to sensitize the continent on the threat.

The disease has for long been neglected by the African agricultural authorities which according to researchers, it is slowly increasing with an estimated prevalence of 4 per cent across Africa. 

John David Kabasa, the Principal, College of Veterinary Medicine and Animal bio-security says, there is an increase in the spread of animal diseases in human beings because of the increase in populations amongst Africans who in turn encroach on habitats supposed to be used by both wild and domestic animals for grazing.

He calls for increased research on how to prevent paratuberculosis that can easily spread from animals to humans.

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Currently, Makerere University and a host of 30 other researchers are trying to find solutions on how to prevent further spread of paratuberculosis amongst the different communities in Africa.