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Home / Health & Science

Goats would bleat, spin in circles and die

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy MARY MUOKI | Mon,Jun 28 2021 08:00:00 EAT
By MARY MUOKI | Mon,Jun 28 2021 08:00:00 EAT

Samuel Loipanya, a livestock farmer in West Pokot County, was distressed when his herd began dying from a strange disease. The livelihood of his family was threatened and the symptoms were even stranger: Goats would start bleating and spinning in circles.

They would lose appetite and get weaker each day as he watched helplessly. They would eventually die. He lost a goat a month. And the rest of the herd was weak and sickly too.

His neighbours were also losing their livestock to this strange disease that left experts puzzled. 

 The adult tapeworm grows in the intestines of dogs. In sheep and goats the larva moves from the intestines to the brain. [Courtesy]

Sammy Chelimo, the director of livestock in West Pokot County, says postmortem showed their brain tissue was full of fluids.

Dr Chelimo said through collaboration with Action Against Hunger, the samples were taken to Kabete Veterinary Research Institute Laboratories in Nairobi for further analysis. The results showed the animals were dying of a worm in the brain called coenurus. Coenurosis is a disease caused by Coenurus cerebralis. It is a highly contagious disease affecting goats and sheep. It is caused by the larval stage of the parasite called Taenia multiceps.

The adult tapeworm grows in the intestines of dogs. In sheep and goats the larva moves from the intestines to the brain. This can take several months. The larva forms a cyst in the brain, eventually causing death.

“Action Against Hunger helped with the research and diagnosis process of that disease. They also donated equipment that goes a long way in disease surveillance and control,” he explained.

The livestock sector plays an important role in the national economies and household food security. Ending poverty and hunger are the first and second, respectively, of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals laid out by the United Nations.

In the pastoralist communities like Lomut in Central Pokot, livestock is not just a mark of prestige, it also means food security. Loipanya says that when his animals are healthier and not dying, they fetch a higher price in the market too. And that enables him to send his children to school, as well as take care of bills at home.

“Because of the intervention of Action Against Hunger, I am no longer afraid that my animals will die. After the disease was diagnosed, the animals are regularly dewormed and the threat is eliminated.”  

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