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Fiji Time: 12:47 PM on Friday 25 April

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Brucellosis cases drop

Avinesh Gopal
Friday, January 03, 2014

THERE has been a significant decrease in brucellosis cases in dairy farms in the Central Division.

And the Agriculture Ministry's Animal Health and Production department says it will eradicate brucellosis in the near future.

But, the ministry says, this can only be done with the support and co-operation of dairy farmers whose cattle are infected.

Following the re-emergence of brucellosis in 2009, the department identified 35 dairy farms in the Central Division that were infected with the disease. But the number has dropped to about 10 now.

In 2012, there was a 2.4 per cent prevalence of brucellosis in the division but this dropped to 0.04 per cent in 2013.

Animal Health and Production director Tomasi Tunabuna said in an interview this was a significant decrease which he attributed to the diligent work of his officers.

"We are controlling the disease very well. It hasn't spread because of our quick action. It hasn't gone out of the Central Division," he said.

"There are no more danger zones now in the dairy farming areas in the division but we are carrying out frequent visits to the farms and testing the cattle.

"If we find cattle with brucellosis, then we slaughter it at the same time. We test a farm and if it's clear, then we return after 12 months.

"But if a farmer has cases of brucellosis on his farm, then we return every three months and regular tests are done. We check more than 30,000 cattle every year.

"However, brucellosis cases have gone down significantly and we will eradicate it but it will depend on how everyone co-operates."

Mr Tunabuna said brucellosis was caused by bacteria that spreads when cattle was moved from one farm to the other.

He said infected farms could only move cattle to another farm or to the abattoir.

"We have a team of 15 officers who start work at 3am every day when the farmers get ready to milk their cows. The officers check for tuberculosis and brucellosis in the cattle.

"Also, we faced some problems in the brucellosis eradication process, as farmers are attached to their cattle and they can't see them slaughtered.

"But we have to tell them why it is necessary to slaughter the cattle as brucellosis is the only sickness in animals that can be spread to humans."