Illness that you must declare to the State official
Dear Daktari, Years ago a quarantine was imposed in my area. There was a rumor that it was because of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in neighboring counties of Narok, Migori and Homa Bay. There was talk of farmers and people being arrested for non-compliance. A veterinarian told me that this is the case for all notifiable diseases. Thank you for informing us about the notifiable diseases… [Samuel Omariba, Kisii County]
Thanks Omariba for the question. The law is one of the means to prevent, control and manage disease. This technique dates back to medieval times when authorities would implore the law to impose quarantines and it has evolved in the contemporary world. This also applies across borders and countries so that quarantined animals cannot access international markets whenever they are infected with such diseases.
What are the notifiable diseases?
Notifiable animal diseases refer to a group of diseases which, if occurring or suspected of occurring, must be reported to veterinary authorities. This means that there is a legal obligation to inform the authorities if you know or suspect that an animal has a reportable disease. The control and subsequent management of reportable diseases requires early recognition to reduce its economic and social impact. Most notifiable diseases also present a national risk, may affect international market access and therefore the urgency of containing them. Host characteristics, including disease reservoirs, transmissibility and virulence, environmental factors and socio-economic background are normally considered. These factors come into play to influence the progression of the disease. Although most reportable diseases are listed and documented in legal documents, they can also include new or unknown diseases. Different countries have different lists of notifiable diseases.
Notifiable Diseases in Kenya
Notifiable diseases in Kenya are contained in the Animal Diseases Act, Cap 364. They include rinderpest (rinderpest), anthrax, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), tuberculosis, coast fever oriental (ECF), epizootic or ulcerative lymphangitis, rabies, foot-and-mouth disease (AF). Plus any other contagious or infectious disease of animals that the competent minister may declare to be reportable.
As a breeder, owner or trader of an animal suspected or confirmed to be infected with a notifiable disease, you are required by law to report it to veterinary authorities. You cannot be a farmer or owner of the animal but you own land in which the said animal is located; in this case, you are required to report the case to the veterinary authorities. A practicing veterinarian, laboratory worker or operator of a meat processing facility should also report such cases. Quarantine, which is the restriction of movement, will always follow notification of notifiable diseases. It is a legal requirement that no livestock should be moved from or to an infected area or from one place to another within that area without the written permission of the veterinary authorities.
Signs of an emergency or reportable animal disease
Although not specific; notifiable disease will show the following clinical signs high rate of death or disease in animals, sudden death, sudden and marked drop in production, for example of milk or eggs, rapid spread of disease in the herd. Any unusual symptoms of the disease may indicate a reportable disease.
[Dr Othieno is a veterinary surgeon and the head of communications at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Kenya. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of FAO]
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