Mysterious disease kills camels in Mandera

Wednesday June 03 2020

Camels at a Mandera livestock market on April 17, 2020. At least 50 camels have died in the county from an unknown disease in the past one month. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Some pastoralists in Mandera are counting loses as a mysterious disease continues to kill camels in the county.

At least 50 camels have died in the last one month, according to livestock officials in the county.

The officials told the Nation that they are working to identify the cause of the disease.

“We have cases of dead camels in Mandera West, Banisa and Lafey sub-counties, but we are waiting for test results from Kabete Veterinary Laboratory to know the exact cause of the deaths,” said Ms Shamsi Mohamud, the county chief officer for livestock.

She said tests were conducted for tripanazomia, para-influenza and five other diseases.

“We have received three test results that turned negative and we are waiting for four more from Kabete,” she said.


Mr Claudio Sortum, county head of veterinary services, said the reported deaths could be due to para-influenza infection sweeping across the county.

“Until we get confirmatory test results, we continue to suspect para-influenza as the cause of the reported deaths considering the symptoms recorded,” he said.

Infected camels, according to Mr Sortum, show difficulty in breathing, mucus discharge, difficulty in movement, stretching of the neck and subsequent death.

“We are distributing antibiotics across the county as we wait for the results of the samples sent to Kabete,” he said.

The county government livestock department said the current situation could not call for declaration of quarantine because the disease did not pose any danger to humans.

“The situation is not that bad to warrant quarantine but we continue observing it and our surveillance teams are in the field for the same purpose,” said Mr Sortum.

In Banisa, Mr Ali Noor is counting loses after he lost 10 camels to the mysterious disease.

“My camels were ready for market and each was to fetch me Sh80,000, but they all died from a disease I am yet to know,” he said.

He said his herd had crossed into Ethiopia before they started dying one after the other.

Mr Sortum ruled out a possible outbreak of suspicious Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), normally referred to as MERS.

“There is nothing as MERS outbreak in Mandera and I believe because that could have been detected long time ago by the centre for disease surveillance,” he said.

He called on the local pastoralists to seek information from the right sources and report any abnormality in their livestock to the gazetted livestock officers.