Voices 63

April 2002

The spread of animal diseases

It is often said that the world is getting smaller. People travel more than ever before. So do animals and their products. And when they travel, they take their diseases with them.

International trade in our global economy has caused some animal diseases to spread far beyond their ‘normal’ boundaries. Contagious diseases are spreading into areas where animals have little or no resistance to them, and farmers are unfamiliar with their symptoms or treatment.

War and other conflict also contribute to animal movement, and the spread of disease. Both the movement of animals for slaughter to feed troops and civilians, and the movement of breeding stock to re-establish agricultural production, increase the potential for the spread of disease.

The increased commercialization of livestock production is another factor in the spread of animal disease. Intense production and overcrowded conditions lead to a more rapid spread of infection.

Climate change can also affect the spread of disease. In East Africa, flooding from the most recent El Niño created an explosion in mosquito populations. The result was an epidemic of Rift Valley fever, which caused extensive abortions among goats, sheep and camels, and widespread illness and death in humans.

The high cost of livestock diseases

In South Africa, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) broke out in 2000 on a pig farm in KwaZulu-Natal, the first FMD infection in the country since 1956. The probable source of the outbreak was pig feed obtained illegally from a foreign ship. In the last decade FMD has spread to many countries long free of the disease.

The last 10 years have also seen a disastrous spread of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in Africa where it now affects some 27 countries and causes estimated losses of up to $2 billion annually. In 1995 the disease was seen in Botswana for the first time in 46 years. All cattle in an area of northern Botswana (approximately 320,000) had to be slaughtered at a direct cost of $100 million. Indirect losses were estimated to be over $400 million.

In Mexico, a 1991 program to eliminate New World Screwworm cost $413 million.

Livestock disease can be devastating for small-scale farmers:

  • Their animals may be quarantined or slaughtered if they are ill, or even if they are in an area where infection is suspected.
  • They cannot sell their animals if a ban is imposed.
  • They may not be able to raise certain animals because of the risk. For example, in some parts of Africa, cattle-raising is limited because of the threat of trypanosomiasis [see guide to diseases in this package]. In some areas, small producers cannot raise chickens because Newcastle Disease is so common.

Controlling the spread of animal disease

National, regional and international efforts are vital to control the spread of animal diseases. But there are also steps that small-scale farmers can take to prevent disease in their own livestock. The radio scripts in this package will help broadcasters produce programs that outline actions for small-scale farmers.

Important prevention methods include:

  • Becoming familiar with livestock diseases.
  • Controlling the movement of livestock.
  • Monitoring the quality of livestock fee.

Let farmers know that a combination of knowledge about good nutrition, proper hygienic practices, pasture rotation, and timely separation of sick animals, can go a long way towards decreasing the spread of animal diseases.

If an outbreak of disease occurs, farmers need to know that they should quarantine their infected animals and farms, and should not sell their animals or animal products (such as meat, milk or eggs).

In areas where veterinarians are unavailable or modern treatments are too expensive, local people can be trained to treat livestock. Animal health workers (also known as Paravets, or Barefoot Vets) are trained to treat animals with simple equipment and a few drugs. Scripts # 7 and 8 in this package promote this valuable alternative.

Farmers themselves have a rich knowledge of indigenous medicines and remedies. Radio broadcasters can help farmers validate and share their traditional treatments and approaches to animal health care by interviewing them, broadcasting panel discussions, or discussing local experiences with the help of farmers and other experts.

Radio programs combat Newcastle Disease

In Mozambique, village women raise chickens for food, trade and ceremonial purposes. But Newcastle disease sometimes kills their birds. In 1999, the National Veterinary Research Institute, in collaboration with the National Directorate of Rural Extension and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, launched a multi-media campaign to improve villagers’ access to a vaccine that controls the disease. The campaign included the use of drama, songs, print media such as pamphlets and flip charts, and radio.

Radio programs were given the highest priority, because radio is the medium that reaches the most people in Mozambique, and it uses local languages. A radio drama, a question and answer program, and a song about vaccination were produced. They were aired in Portuguese and four African languages on national and community radio stations.

At the same time, extension workers helped to raise farmers’ awareness, and community vaccinators were trained. Farmers were more receptive to the information provided by extension workers and community vaccinators when they had heard a similar message over radio.

For further information, please contact:

National Veterinary Research Institute and the National Directorate of Rural Extension
Dr. Filomena dos Anjos
E-mail: coopi@tropical.co.mz

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Researchwww.aciar.gov.au
Dr Robyn Alders
E-mail: robyn_alders@yahoo.co.uk or robyn@tropical.co.mz
Dr John Copland
E-mail: copland@aciar.gov.au

We are really grateful for your HIV/AIDS education, for health is wealth, and the prevalence of this disease in this part of the world is quite epidemic…At the moment we are organising educational hearings on HIV/AIDS, diabetes, the environment, and cancer prevention, and we are holding public conferences dedicated to ending the silence about the deterioration of women’s health and its connection to the environment.

Ada Obi
Crown Women Cooperatives, Nigeria

oneworld radio

OneWorld Radio is launching a site where radio broadcasters can share their programs (in original languages) and download free content. Read news on current developments in broadcasting, find training and funding information, and network with fellow producers. The Farm Radio Network has joined the venture and encourages partners who wish to use the audio exchange to apply for free membership )

Partner Profile

Adelina O. Carreno of ViSCA Radio DYAC in the Philippines, is the winner of this year’s George Atkins Communication Award. The award is presented to a Network partner who demonstrates excellence in farm radio broadcasting.

Adelina joined the Farm Radio Network in 1990. She is a producer of ViSCA Radio’s School on the Air (SOA), an educational program for farmers.

SOA requires that farmers who register show an interest in the subjects treated, a willingness to finish the entire course, and that they apply most of the techniques that they learn during the course. The only tool needed is a radio. So far the station has conducted more than twenty Schools on the Air on various farm topics. Of the thousands of farmer students that have participated, 90% have applied the lessons they learned from SOA. The remaining students could not apply their new knowledge due to lack of capital, land or time.

To ensure that her radio programs are useful to farmers, Adelina asks the following questions:

  • What is the farmer’s background?
  • How much does the farmer already know?
  • What does the farmer want to know?
  • Where and when does the farmer listen to the program?

Twice a month Adelina visits the School on the Air farmers in their home villages. She also uses feedback received by mail to evaluate program impact. She feels that it is necessary to be in close contact with your community and know what issues are affecting them, in order to deliver helpful, effective programming.



Catalogue of diseases. Available in English, French and Spanish.
Contact: Office international Des Epizooties, World Organization for animal health, (Organisation mondiale de la santé animale, Organización mundial de sanidad animal)
12 rue de Prony 75017 Paris, France.
E-mail: oie@oie.int

Manual on Livestock Disease Surveillance and Information Systems and Recognizing peste des petits ruminants: A field manual
Available from: EMPRES (Livestock) Animal Health Service FAO, Animal Production and Health Division
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100
Rome, Italy
Tel: +39 06 57054798/6772
Fax: 39 06 57053023
E-mail: empres-livestock@fao.org
Web: www.fao.org/empres

A simple guide to managing village poultry in South Africa.
How to improve meat and egg production to improve household nutrition. Includes a section on health care and good line drawings. In English, Afrikaans, Sotho, Xhosa, Zulu, Tshivenda. Cost is 4 South African Rand – practically free!
Contact: Kobie du Preez, 31 van Riebeck St., Stellenbosch
Republic of South Africa 7600
E-mail: kdupreez@mweb.co.za

Christian Veterinary Mission Book Series. Ten manuals and a book including:
Raising healthy poultry (French, Spanish, English)
Raising healthy rabbits (Spanish, English)
Raising healthy goats (Spanish, English)
Raising healthy pigs (Spanish, English)
Where there is no animal doctor (English book)
Contact: Christian Veterinary Mission, 19303 Fremont Ave. N.
Seattle, Washington 98133
Fax: 206-546-7269
E-mail: kky@crista.org


VETAID. Works with local organizations to strengthen livelihood strategies of resource-poor farmers by increasing the contribution made by their livestock. Contact: VETAID, Pentlands, Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Scotland, E26 OPZ
Tel: 0131 445 6241
E-mail: mail@vetaid.org

League for Pastoral Peoples. Advocacy and support group working with pastoral communities, primarily in India. Produce publications on health care for camels and sheep.
Contact: League for Pastoral Peoples, Pragelatostrasse 20, 64372
Ober-Ramstadt, Germany
Tel. +49-6154-53642
Fax +49-6154-53642
E-mail: gorikr@t-online.de
Web: www.pastoralpeoples.org

Training opportunity

Combating racism and xenophobia. September 1-5, 2002, Harare, Zimbabwe. A five-day course for senior reporters and editors to help expose and manage newsroom prejudices that influence reporting on racism and xenophobia on the African continent. Will cover the importance of educating journalists in order to reflect issues such as class, race, ethnicity and culture.
Contact: The Coordinator, Africa Information Afrique, PO Box 7069
Harare, Zimbabwe
E-mail: aia@zol.co.zw