Ministry of Agriculture warns over new fish disease

Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has warned farmers about a suspected outbreak of a disease called Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS) in fish at Dambo village, Mlonyeni Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Mchinji District within Kasungu ADD.

In a statement signed on Monday, Secretary for the Ministry Gray Nyandule Phiri said the disease has so far spread to other water bodies within Mchinji.

Phiri added that Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS) is a highly contagious fungal disease that mostly affects fresh water fish and has very devastating socio-economic consequences which include disruption of natural aquatic species diversity as a result of massive fish mortalities and reduced livelihood of subsistence and commercial fishermen.

“The disease results in low or no income that come from fish, generally reduced fish protein intake and risk on the ban of fish exports which will affect the if not timely controlled.

“It does not directly affect human beings. Although, there is no direct public health risk for consuming fish suffering from EUS, however, the fact that EUS causes deep ulcers, some opportunistic bacteria can invade the wounds and if someone eats the infected fish, diseases like diarrhea can occur especially in children and other vulnerable groups,” he said.

He added that preliminary investigation conducted so far indicates that the disease has affected almost the entire district of Mchinji and infinite number of fish is at a high risk.

Detailed investigations are still ongoing to establish the magnitude of spread and map the extent of the problem.

In conformity with the Control and Animal Diseases Act (Cap 66:02), and the World Animal Health organisation guidelines, the Ministry has with immediate effect instituted measures within and around Mchinji district which include temporary suspension of transportation and selling of live or dead fish around the affected areas and suspension of fishing from the infected rivers and dams.

The ministry has also advised people to avoid use of same fishing equipment used in the infected waters to other water bodies and to avoid carrying water from the infected rivers and fish ponds to other water bodies.

Farmers are also advised to drain the infected ponds and let them dry with sunlight or add lime on the surface of drained ponds to kill the fungi that causes this disease as well as avoid eating the sick fish to prevent people from suffering from other diseases like diarrhea.

Phiri said they are currently working tirelessly to contain the disease and will continue updating the general public on the situation from time to time.

He urged the fishermen, fish farmers and the general public to cooperate with its officials and the police during the implementation of these measures.

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