Two farmers’ 27 cows die as ticks put up resistance to drugs

By The Inspirer staff

At one farm in Gatsibo District’s Rwimbogo Sector, François Niyonsaba’s elder brother decided to spray mixed drugs in an attempt to kill ticks (locally called Ibirondwe ) — cow parasites that were feeding on the blood of cows. But,what happened was a scandal as Niyonsaba’s 15 cows died the same day the drug was applied, while another cow died later.

The application of the mixture of a drug used to control ticks and a pesticide used to manage pests in crop was an attemptto lower resitence hat ticks have built up against commonly used medicine, according to accounts from dairy farmers.

Niyonsaba disclosed that his neighbour, who also used the drug trying to kill ticks off his cows, lost 11 cows.

In total, the two farmers lost 27 cows to the wrong spray which Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) said generated a deadly poison. The incidence started occurreing late June (on June 26, 2018).

“I had bought a medicine called ‘Milbitraz’, and gave it to the so that they apply it to remove ticks fromcowsbutut, as there is a problem of ticks having mounted resistance to common drugs, instead of dying, they grow bigger in size. So, my elder brother added another drug,” the 48-year-old, father of six said.

Niyonsaba had 19 cows. Now, only three cows are alive as another died later despite veterinary attempts to save it by injections into its abnormally swollen stomach. Its value, he said, was estimated to Rwf800,000.

“It’s a loss. It cannot be reversed. That is like a misfortune that has befallen us,” he said.

“You cannot sit back and let your cows die; you can rather try even though you might fail,” he said.

Dr. Solange Uwituze, Deputy Director General for Animal Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), said that a drug used to spray cows in Gatsibo was Nortraz mixed with a pesticide used in crop protection and anti-cockroaches, revealing that 31 cows were sprayed and 26 died.

According to Rwanda Agriculture Board, Milbtraz is one of several brand names the acaricide ‘Amitraz’, such as Nortraz, and Amitix. Acaricide is a substance poisonous to mites or ticks.

When cows have not been treated against ticks, their bites can transmit theileriosis – a deadly disease of cattle.

The Chairman of Rwanda National Dairy Farmers’ Federation, Gahiga Gashumba said that the issue of drug resistance has been persisting, which made farmers resort to mixing them with pesticides used in crops so that they try to control them.

“It is absolutely forbidden to mix two or more drugs at the farm level because the mixture may turn into something poisonous and deadly as it was an unfortunate case in Gatsibo,” Uwituze warned.

Niyonsaba appealed “The government should look for effective drugs that can kill ticks.”

Seeking a solution to the problem

Dr. Uwituze observed that the acaricide Nortraz has been used for a while by farmers. As a result ticks developed resistance against this drug partly attributable to its mishandling by cattle keepers such as underdose, partial spraying and irregular spraying. Eastern and Southern provinces, she said, are the most affected by such a resistance.

“We are currently promoting new acaricides to support those already on market such as Bayticol [which controls ticks on cattle, dogs and horses of all ages)], and Nortraz, which are effective when used adequately according to the label,” she said.

“The drug we see being effective currently ‘ks Permapy plus which repels ticks, flies, and mosquitoes. As such, it is also good to use in fighting Rift Valley Fever (RVF) by repelling mosquitoes. It is new, hence ticks are not used to it, made in Rwanda, and organic without any residues remaining in the environment, hence it has less chances to be resisted by ticks, flies, and mosquitoes,” she pointed out.

However, Gahiga Gashumba said that the locally made drug is expensive, as one litre is Rwf19,000, necessitating a farmer with 30 cows to use it twice. The spray is normally used once in two weeks.

Furthermore, Dr. uwituze said that RAB in collaboration with local government and farmers are in campaign of building or repair crushes at umudugudu (village) level so as to have a facility where to vaccinate, treat, and spray cows adequately.

“We are also improving the role of Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) in ensuring livestock health is well maintained,’ she said.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,( is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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