Foot and mouth disease, a highly contagious disease has been reported in Nyagatare district of the Eastern Province.
Officials from the Rwanda Animal Resources Development Authority (RARDA) said that the fatal viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle was confirmed present about two weeks ago.
Dr Théogène Rutagwenda, the Director General of RARDA said that about 244 cows have been diagnosed with signs of the disease.
“These are all within Katabagemu sector (umurenge), whose cattle is now under quarantined,” he revealed.
“As we continue to investigate where the disease might have come from, the situation is not alarming. In fact, we have managed to contain it with no severe developments seen,” Dr Rutagwenda told The Business Times.
He said that veterinary officers in the districts have vaccinated about 78,268 cows in the surrounding areas.
According to experts, foot and mouth disease is a highly variable and transmissible virus which can be spread even by animals that are not vulnerable to it.
Humans are also said to be infected with foot-and-mouth disease through contact with infected animals though this is extremely rare.
Nyagatare, the former Umutara Province, borders Uganda in the North and Tanzania in the East.
The country’s largest district has the biggest amount of cattle in Rwanda. It is said to accommodate over 60 percent of the country’s cattle population.
The disease has all along been a threat to the district due to the high population of cattle kept on a free range farming system.
In 2006, the disease was a threat to cattle. This forced district authorities to pass by laws on ‘foot and mouth’ disease as one of the strategies to prevent further effects in the area.
Government considers transformation of the agriculture sector from subsistence to commercial as a key to improvement lives of the local population.
Initiatives such as One-Cow-Per-Family and artificial insemination are established to boost milk production, quality of beef produced in Rwanda and household incomes.