Smart Harvest

Beware! That fake vet can kill your dear cow

A close up of a cowboy giving a calf an injection.

“Greetings daktari. I kindly need your advice about my cow diagnosed with mastitis a few weeks ago. It was treated using antibiotics and then later after one week he (the quack vet) said it had pneumonia but since then things have never been the same again. The milk production dropped from 18 litres per day to less than a litre. When I told him he injected the cow with Oxytocin to aid in milk let down, he said it was affected by the antibiotics which he used when treating mastitis... I am confused.” Poline Njeri

Njeri’s case points to troubles unsuspecting farmers go through under the hands of quack vets. A quack is an imposter who is not qualified to treat animals but they actually masquerading as vets.

Quacks make farmers incur lots of unnecessary expense; worst they can literary kill your animal.

Quacks are misusing veterinary antibiotics through improper use and this is resulting in resistance to antibiotics.

Veterinary practice unlike human medicine mostly happens on farms and quacks have taken this advantage to fleece farmers under pretext of treating animals.

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At the time Njeri was writing me this email I was out of town and after the few email exchanges and phone conversation I was convinced her cow had been “treated” by a quack.

Why did I come to this conclusion?

How to identify quacks

Njeri said the ‘vet’ didn’t leave any records. This is typical of quacks; a trained animal health professional will always leave behind a documented record which details his tentative or confirmed diagnosis and the medications given.

This is important because in the event the farmer wishes to change to another vet, the new one can follow up the treatment process from an informed point of view.

Quacks in most cases will not leave records because they know they are committing a legal offense.

Two, they may not know what and how to write a medical report. So for them not to leave any footsteps they prefer not to do the record.

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For Njeri’s case, the person didn’t even leave a phone number.

For identification he only gave one name; this makes it hard for any follow-up. Had Njeri been aware of the existence of quacks that should have served as an early warning sign.

Why you shouldn’t allow a quack near your cow?

Quacks are the equivalent to short cuts in life; they seem cheap but are costly in the long-term. Take Njeri’s example; the cow had been infected with mastitis – Dr Nicholas Borr whom I sent to follow up on the case confirmed this and instituted effective treatment.

It required treatment from an animal health professional and that should have cured fast enough to get the cow back into production.

By the time Njeri was calling me about two weeks had elapsed; this must have given the disease ample time to cause more damage.

I am not sure the cow suffered pneumonia but again it was given oxytocin injection to improve the milk production – this is an immiscible mix that doesn’t have any medical backing.

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The point is, Njeri incurred unnecessary expenses and had to undergo a prolonged loss on milk production. Had the case been handled by an animal health professional Njeri would have saved a lot.

What should a farmer do?

The Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB) is a government agency with the mandate to regulate the veterinary practice in Kenya. The board was created by the Veterinary Surgeons’ and Veterinary Para-professionals (VSVP) Act, 2011.

The board registers, licenses, controls and regulates veterinary practice and veterinary laboratories, clinics, animal hospitals and animal welfare institutions.

According to the Board’s Chief Executive Officer; Dr Idraph Ragwa a farmer has a right to ask for the professional identity cards of anyone attending to their animals.

The board registers all vets and veterinary para-professionals in Kenya and gives them identity cards that have the following features — a photograph of the professional, name, qualifications and a current year.

The cards are given annually. Veterinary doctors will have white cards while the others have yellow, blue or green cards according to their level of qualification.

Farmers can also complain directly to the board in writing through the e-mail [email protected] or Postal Address PO Box 513-00605, Uthiru, Nairobi, Kenya) if they aren’t satisfied with the service they have received and a corrective action will be taken.

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The Board can also be reached through 0722305253.

(The writer was the winner of Vet of the Year Award 2016 and works with the Kenya Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Council –KENTTEC, [email protected])

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