Last week, a certain politician from western Kenya tweeted that his bull had died.
Apparently, the bull, named Malinya Pogba, had died from East Coast Fever which is a preventable disease.
Several people among them Dr Collins Masheti a vet from the area, and Dr Gaunya Martin, reached out to me to write about East Coast Fever to educate the public on this killer but preventable disease.
Given that the animal is used in bullfighting, I will also address the issue with regard to the law and animal welfare.
Many people did not know that Pogba the bull was used in bull fighting, an illegal yet deep-rooted cultural activity in this part of Kenya.
I am not sure whether the diagnosis that the bull had died from East Coast Fever came from a vet but let’s give it benefit of doubt because the area is prone to tick borne diseases.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act Cap 360 outlaws fighting of animals or using them in certain public performances like bullfighting or even making films involving cruelty to animals.
While animal fights is a natural behaviour, when animals are forced to fight in public contests and for commercial purposes, it goes against animal welfare and should be punished by law.
Administration of stimulants as is normally done by bullfighters is illegal. There are many other practices that are an outright abuse of animal welfare.
The common example is transportation of chicken on the roofs of buses and cattle and shoats in lorries or pick-up trucks for long distances.
Control ticks weekly
However, the most disturbing thing about Pogba is that it died of a preventable tick-borne disease. Two things can be adduced from this situation: One, the bull did not receive its share of spraying with acaricides to control ticks despite its celebrity status.
Two, it did not get urgent veterinary attention when it became sick.
From the pictures, Pogba is an exotic cross probably living alongside indigenous Zebus.
Zebus are relatively resistant to tick-borne diseases among them ECF and therefore act as reservoirs of diseases to exotic breeds.
In exotic breeds, ECF has 100 per cent mortality. It is also possible the owner might have not been aware of the risk Pogba was exposed to.
East Coast Fever is a preventable disease through tick control and vaccination.
When mixing herds, especially exotic and local breeds, tick control should be done with saintly dedication.
Ticks spread a number of diseases and lower the quality of skin and hides and every farmer should control ticks by weekly spraying of their stock with acaricides.
[The writer is Vet of the Year Award winner and works in the Division of Communication and Vet Advisory Services within the Directorate of Veterinary Services; [email protected]]