Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 30, 2019 (ZIZ News): The Department of Agriculture has addressed the growing concerns surrounding the spread of Dermatophilosis in animals across St. Kitts and Nevis.
Dermatophilosis is a bacterium that affects animals by causing scabs and crusts on the skin. In some cases, the disease can also lead to death.
The disease is caused by a parasite known as the Amblyomma variegatum which commonly known as the tropical bont tick.
In an interview with ZIZ, Veterinary Officer in the Department of Agriculture, Dr. Lesroy “Pacer” Henry explained that the Department of Agriculture is doing everything it can to assist farmers whose animals are suffering from the disease. He said the issue is fast becoming an economic problem as well.
Dermatophilosis can affect cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and less frequently pigs, dogs, and cats.
Dr. Henry said, “Quite a lot of these animals are roaming and because of this, we have further spread of the disease. We have seen a lot of animals die from the disease and this is one of our greatest concerns. There’s economic loss and financial losses and we are at this present time trying our best to see how much we can assist farmers to relieve them of this problem.”
The bont tick species spread from West Africa to several countries, including the Caribbean islands after a shipment of cattle was sent to Guadeloupe and Antigua in the 1800’s.
Dr. Henry advised that several measures must be put in place to help eliminate this problem, because the tick spreads from animal to animal at a rapid pace.
He also explained that farmers must do their part and follow the proper procedures to help solve the problem.
“We have to eliminate the roaming of these animals especially the cattle. We have quite a lot of cattle roaming the place, transporting the tick from one point to another and this in itself is disturbing. Then we have those farmers who do not comply with treating. They treating the animals today and they don’t look for them again and they only find these animals when these animals are sick. There is also the absence of the acaricide ‘Bayticol’ which is used to treat the ticks and in the absence of this, we have an abundance of ticks,” the vet explained.
Bayticol is a pesticide that kills ticks on infected animals specifically cattle. Unfortunately, there has been a shortage of the substance.
Director of Agriculture, Melvin James said however, that the department has placed an emergency order of the product and is expecting the item within the next week or two.
He said, “Bayticol is the acaricide of choice because it is difficult to develop resistance and it is very effective. We usually are able to source it regionally and for quite a number of years, the farmers had an adequate supply. In recent times, our source has been unable to provide the product and so we have searched further afield and we are now able to get the product out of France.”
Director James continued, “We have made an emergency shipment and very recent, very soon, maybe in another 2 weeks maximum, we’ll have the Bayticol here in St. Kitts”.
James said farmers are also being reminded to use the Bayticol sparingly considering that there is a low supply in the region. He added that farmers must also apply the pesticide as instructed to see best results.
According to the officials, about 80 percent of cattle on St. Kitts are being affected by the disease and is closely followed by infected sheep and goats.