An outbreak of a strange and highly infectious disease in Labongo Akwang Sub-county in Kitgum District has left hundreds of pigs dead.
The disease was first reported in the area in October last year but has continued to kill pigs to date. The affected villages are Bajere East and Bajere in Lamit Parish, Ogwet and Okwici all in Lukwar Parishes, predominantly known for pig rearing in the district.
Michael Obita Okela, a farmer and a resident of Oget village says he lost 46 pigs worth millions of shillings within just a week following the outbreak of the disease.
He says his pigs started presenting with symptoms of straightened back hair, loss of appetite, vomiting and reddish skin adding that pigs with such symptoms die within only a day.
According to Obita, all avenues to save the pigs from dying using traditional herbs and conventional veterinary animal drugs have been futile.
Richard Lubangakene, another pig farmer and resident of Okwici village equally share a similar plight. Lubangakene says he lost 16 pigs to the disease within just a week after they started showing symptoms of loss of appetite, reddish skin, and vomiting.
He notes that he has now lost interest in rearing pigs since no investigation has been carried by veterinary officers to ascertain the exact disease.
Richard Kibwota, the LCI Chairperson Oget village says that close to 600 pigs have died from the strange illness since October last year when it was first reported.
Kibwota says the affected farmers are stranded since pig rearing is one of their main sources of income for supporting their families and paying for school fees.
The Sub-County Chairperson Charles Oyoo Adot suspects the disease could be the deadly African swine fever. He called on the District veterinary department to swiftly investigate the disease for proper diagnosis.
He says many pig farmers including him are in a panic since no vaccine is at their disposal to fight off the infectious disease.
Alfred Kinyera, the Kitgum District Veterinary Officer, however, says his office hasn’t received any report on the outbreak of the disease.
He wonders why the affected farmers and local leaders haven’t availed the sub-county veterinary officer with such reports.
Kinyera, however, says their team will be sent to the affected area to extract samples for testing at Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe to ascertain whether the outbreak is African Swine Fever or not.
“When the test sample turns positive for African swine fever, it means that quarantine has to be imposed immediately in the district,” Kinyera said on Monday.
Health experts in the district have since cautioned locals against consuming dead pigs and transportation of live ones that may ease its spread in the neighbouring areas.
African swine fever is a highly contagious haemorrhagic disease of pigs caused by a virus.