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Sick animals in Gembe East

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI went on a hunt for some sick animals… and finally found some! We were visiting some families in Gembe East, and area close to Mbita Point in Homa Bay County and found a man who had more than 50 goats and nearly 20 cows. In Maasai-land, that’s a tiny herd, but in Luo-land, its gigantic.

He had a sickly goat which had just aborted, vaginal discharge, was feverish, emaciated and had a hard coat. A friend suggested it might be Brucella, but without a test, we’ll never really know. Either way, I suggested that it might not be a terrible idea to make choma out of it (as he said he was going to do) and get it away from the pregnant lady in the house. He reported that there had been a couple of other abortions in his herd.

The cows in Luo-land don’t look very good. It’s possible that the scant rains recently are having an impact on the vegetation. Pink-eye is everywhere right now.

So much is made about potentially zoonotic diseases in giant pastoralist herds, but the issue goes mostly ignored around Lake Victoria. Though animal possession per household is low, there are more households living in more densely populated conditions, meaning that there are potentially more animals per square kilometer in Nyanza than in Northern Kenya.

A combination of high human and animal density, poverty and a shared water source could create perfect conditions for a zoonotic disease outbreak.

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Financial woes fuel Brucella outbreak in Northern Cyprus

Brucellosis hotspot?

Brucellosis hotspot?

Cyprus made the news a while ago because of its crushing debt crisis requiring a 10 billion Euro bailout.

Less known is that Cyprus is actually two countries, one of which is Northern Cyprus, which is only recognized by Turkey. It’s safe to say, though, that Northern Cyprus’ financial health is deeply connected to that of Cyprus’.

Northern Cyprus apparently doesn’t have enough money in it’s budget to adequately monitor, test and deal with an rapidly spreading outbreak of Brucellosis among its livestock because of the Cypriot financial collapse.

Brucella is a nasty bacterial disease which I’ve written on before which includes outcomes such as fever, malaise, miscarriage, chronic arthritis and heart disease, depression, mania and death. It can infect all mammals and is highly transmissible; any contact with a bacterium will result in infection. Though only one case of human to human transmission has ever been recorded (sexual transmission), Brucella is well known as a public health threat to people who work with livestock.

Brucella is ranked among the most economically important zoonotic diseases globally, and presents threats to humans, animals and wildlife.

The chairman of the union of livestock producers, Mustafa Naimoglulari, confirmed that the brucellosis microbe has been discovered at 60 farms and criticized the authorities for not launching a fight against the disease.

He said that blood should have been taken from the animals for analysis in order to establish which of them are contaminated.

In statements to Kibris, the official responsible for agriculture in TRNC, Onder Sennaroglu said that they have taken money from UNOPS to deal with the issue, but they could not eliminate brucellosis.

He noted that he knows that money should not be an excuse, but the cost of this issue is very high. “I have to say that resources are needed, and we have no resources at the moment,” he admitted, adding that they have applied to the EU for money.

The Cypriot financial crisis has its roots in the US subprime mortgage crisis. In fact, the pattern of the precentage of debt to GDP of Cyprus follows that of the Eurozone, but rapidly increases after 2012, where the EU flattened out. Cyprus previously relied heavily on a tourism fueled real estate bubble in addition to revenues from tourism itself. As debt went bad in the US and the Eurozone, debt went bad in Cyprus. Having no other sectors to depend on, the Cypriot economy collapsed.

Now, we are seeing that the financial collapse and the loss of government revenues to support public health efforts and having deleterious effects on animal and, likely, human health.

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