In an exclusive interview at his Youyi Building yesterday, the Deputy Director of Animal Health and Head of Veterinary Disease Surveillance at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Amadu Tejan-Jalloh in response to questions from AYV did not deny the reports. He maintained however that in the first place Foot and Mouth Disease has never been endemic in Sierra Leone. He went on to say that no sooner the reports came in from a portion of Kambia, Tonkolili and Kono districts, the Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with experts from N’jala University tentatively diagnosed the signs and symptoms of disease.
He confirmed that the disease is not transferable to humans but that economically it can affect human or public life. He said the major signs and symptoms include heavy salivation running from the mouth because of sores and blisters in the mouth of cattle; with sores appearing between the teeth of cows for example and then the hoof or areas around the hoofs of the cattle are inundated with sores which disturb the animal’s normal functions.
According to Dr. Amadu Tejan-Jalloh, following the reports, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Livestock and Veterinary Division and the Director of Disease Surveillance Ministry of Health and Sanitation, together with Njala University and FAO visited the aforementioned areas and did some treatment against the disease using other medication. “But it can spread throughout but we have warned all the border areas and the livestock officers in the field to be vigilant in allowing movement or restricting the movement of livestock especially from those areas and even within the areas which seem to be healthy to avoid the spread. That is what so far we have done,” Dr. Amadu Tejan-Jalloh told AYV.
He went on to say that “the Office of National Security (ONS) which is the national body responsible for security issues summoned us and other stakeholders (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Social Welfare, and the Chief Immigration Officer). The ONS Coordinator explained the issue and we discussed for some time after then came out with most serious ideas that we should have a plan and that plan is what we are on now.”
He said the plan is titled ‘Outbreak Plan and Testing of other Cattle’. He added that they have really gone far preparing the plan and have submitted the budget for action to be taken.
He went on to say that in order to allay the fears of the public, nobody should panic because Foot and Mouth is not a disease that affects people directly. He also said that people should only eat meat from cattle that have been slaughtered in an abattoir after vetted by a livestock official.
He stressed that there is nothing wrong with eating meat as long as it is not dead meat. “People should only eat meat from cattle that is slaughtered in an abattoir and even then, these cattle would first have to be vetted for safe human consumption by a qualified livestock inspector,” Dr. Tejan-Jalloh warned.
“We have warned against the spread and put mechanisms to stop its spread and people must not panic as we have everything under control at the moment. But we cannot say it is fully under control because we are just at the start of handling the situation and so but I want to tell everyone to allay their fears not to be worried and to be vigilant in every aspect and report any suspicious cattle to the authorities. You do not normally just eat meat like that. Do not eat dead animals. Eat only slaughtered animals that have first passed the quality test,” he warned.
He added that livestock inspectors must be around before animals are slaughtered to inspect the animal visually before they are slaughtered.
He reiterated that for now there is no threat and that they are still searching for any carrier of the disease within the borders of Sierra Leone.