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High Prevalence of Zoonotic Diseases in Arua Worries Veterinarians

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The diseases, as identified by the Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries ministry, include Rabies, Anthrax, Trypanosomiasis also known as sleeping sickness, Brucellosis, Rift Valley Fever, Plague and Black quarter, some of which also affect humans.
An animal suspected to be suffering from Anthrax.

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Health officials in Arua are worried about the prevalence of seven zoonotic human and livestock diseases in the district.

The diseases, as identified by the Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries ministry, include Rabies, Anthrax, Trypanosomiasis also known as sleeping sickness, Brucellosis, Rift Valley Fever, Plague and Black quarter, some of which also affect humans.

    

Six of these have hit Arua District over the years causing a negative health and economic impact on the farmers and communities. 

A report from Arua District Veterinary Department shows that Plague is prevalent in the Logiri and Vurra sub counties as a result of the high number of rodents in the homesteads, while Rabies cuts across all the 28 sub counties owing to the high number of dogs which are not vaccinated. One dog bite is reported every month.

Other diseases like Anthrax, Trypanosomiasis and RVF are prevalent in the areas of Madi-Okollo, Odupi, Omugo and Uriama in Terego. Brucellosis has been reported in urban areas of Arua town where meat and milk consumption is high.  

Dr. Willy Nguma, the Arua District Veterinary Officer and coordinator One Health in West Nile Region, says the six diseases have had a devastating effect on animal husbandry and human life in the district.   

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In 2018 Uganda launched a five-year One Health plan as an innovative strategy to promote multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary application of knowledge and skills of medical, public health, veterinary and environmental experts. The aim of the strategic plan is to bring experts together to address animal, human and environmental health challenges.

On April 25, Arua district should have hosted the world veterinary day celebrations with emphasis on protecting the environment for better human and animal life. Dr. Sylvia Baluka, the President Uganda Veterinary Association, said Arua was selected because of its proximity to the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC and South Sudan, which have poor Human and Veterinary services that has trickled into West Nile.

She said they chose to host the veterinary day in Arua to raise community awareness on the six prevalent diseases and how to manage them. 

Dr. Baluka, however, said they couldn’t implement their planned activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic which forced the government to put the entire country under lockdown.

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