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Floods Raise Risk of Livestock Disease


Humanitarian efforts continue in the Horn of Africa, where floods in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia have affected more than one million people. Humanitarian efforts are underway to bring in food, drinking water and other supplies.

The floods are also taking their toll on livestock in the region. Many goats and cattle are reported drowned.

Vincent Martin is an animal health officer for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. From Rome, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the livestock at risk.

"The main danger is related to vector-borne diseases, which are diseases influenced by climate. And these diseases appear when you have such conditions like we’re observing these days of above average rainfall that can precipitate the upsurge of certain diseases, such as Rift Valley Fever,” he says.

Earlier this year, the region suffered from severe drought, and the lack of food and water killed many livestock. The animals that survived may now be more susceptible to illness. Martin says, “From a disease point of view, the succession of dryness followed by heavy rainfall is also excellent for the multiplication and amplification of mosquitoes, which can trigger epidemics such as…Rift Valley Fever. And therefore you’ve got the combination of weakened animals and excellent conditions for vectors and viruses to emerge and infect the livestock or humans.”

Martin says, ”There’s an urgent need for veterinary services in the field” to look for signs of disease. He says in some cases, preventive vaccines can be used to protect animals.

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