THE Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security suspects that rabies could be the disease that has plagued rural parts of the Berea district and resulted in the deaths of several cattle.
The ministry has also warned the public against consuming meat from affected cattle until tests have been conducted to ascertain the identity of the disease.
For the past two weeks the areas of Masoeling, Malumeleng, Khorong, Ha Nkhele, Har’a Mahetlane and Jordan in Berea have been hit by a disease that has killed several cattle.
The villagers said the infected beasts exhibited symptoms of rabies, including pressing their heads into objects, bellowing loudly and unexplained rear-limb lameness.
The beasts also suddenly collapsed and died within a matter of hours.
The director general in the Department of Livestock Services of the agriculture ministry, Relebohile Mahloane, this week told the Lesotho Times that based on the symptoms that were explained to him by the area veterinary doctor, the cattle were most likely infected with rabies. He however, said that tests would have to be conducted to diagnose the disease.
“I learned of the plague last week from the veterinary doctor in charge of the area who explained that the infected cattle behaved as though they crazy,” Dr Mahloane said, “I suspect it could be rabies because of the symptoms”.
“I instructed the area veterinary doctor to collect some samples from the cows so that we can run tests in the laboratory but so far nothing has been submitted because it is said that the cows are too wild to catch” he said.
Dr Mahloane also castigated the locals for failing to timeously report the outbreak as this would have enabled the ministry to prevent it from spreading.
“They (the locals) should have notified the livestock office in Berea as soon as the disease broke out as that would have enabled us to take urgent steps to deal with it and prevent it from spreading.
“Meat from rabid animals can still be consumed as rabies attacks the nerves and brain and not the blood system and flesh. The only thing that cannot be eaten is the brain but since we have not conducted any tests, I strongly advice people not to consume such meat as it may be dangerous to their health,” he said.