Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nigerian Rinderpest: A Huge Loss

Between the years of 1980 and 1984, and especially in 1983, Rinderpest affected cattle in Nigeria very severely, affecting not only the health of cows, but the country’s economy, forcing many cattle farmers out of the trade. In this post I will discuss the 1983 epidemic.

Lesser breakouts of the disease caused the death and slaughter of over 10,000 cows before being put under control. (One theory is that infected herds from Cameroon were introduced as their owners tried to escape the inevitable slaughter of their herds.) During the dry season of 1983, coincidentally, after huge brush fires had diminished grazing area, cattle herders were forced to drive cattle to a limited amount of areas in search of water. Because of the fires, malnutrition was also a problem at this time, and when combined with the density of cows, led to a huge outbreak.

In 1982, a combined 826 cows died in Nigeria as a direct result of Rinderpest, and from slaughters aimed towards preventing its spread. In 1983, this figure skyrocketed as a result of combined factors. How high? In 1983, this number surpassed 418,000. Vaccine use was implemented, (nearly 9 million cows were vaccinated) but not in time to prevent the ENOURMOUS cost to the country of Nigeria.

When all areas of profit loss, preventative, slaughter and other costs were combined, this epidemic took a huge toll on the country. About 304 million dollars in cattle were lost, 140 million dollars lost as a result of active cattle infections, 100 million lost in disease surveillance, 90 million lost in working hours, 303 million lost in cattle replacement costs, and an astounding 577 million in losses due to reduced value of Nigerian cattle, the need for important milk and meat, and other national costs. Overall, the estimated monetary loss for Nigeria totaled 1.5 billion dollars.

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