Deadly blue tongue disease kills hundreds sheep and goats

Livestock officers inspecting some of the sheep at Oldonyo-Orasha in Narok East. [ROBERT KIPLAGAT, STANDARD]

Pastoralists in Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL) areas in Narok are counting losses after losing their sheep and goats to the deadly blue tongue disease.

The viral disease characterised by excessive salivation, nasal discharge and protrusion of the tongue from the mouth, has reportedly killed hundreds of sheep and goats in various parts in Narok East and Narok West sub-counties.

“I have lost about 13 sheep to this disease that kills very fast. Anytime I wake up I find my sheep salivating with tongues hanging out of the mouth. They stop grazing,  get emaciated and eventually die within a week,” said John Kuruna, a Suswa resident in Narok East.

The livestock keeper has appealed to the county government to assist them combat the disease.

The disease kills within eight to ten days or the animals take long to recover and suffers alopecia (hair loss), sterility and growth.

As a result of the desperation, Mr Kuruna said, majority of pastoralists have resorted to traditional herbs to treat their animals, a move he said has not been effective.

“We urging the county veterinary officers to come to our rescue because we are losing our stock. Some have started using some roots and leaves of herbs in a bid to save their animalss,” said the farmer.

County Agriculture and Livestock Executive Evalyn Koiyan said the county was planning a massive vaccination that will see more than 800,000 sheep and goats immunised against the disease.

“As a county we are in the process of buying the vaccines to enable us protect at least 800,000 sheep and goats across the county. We understand that most of our people are pastoralists and we take their concerns very seriously,” said Ms Koiyan.

She said they have imposed a quarantine and were in talks with neighbouring counties such as Migori and Kajiado to come up with a cross-bounder vaccination.