x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Ministry denies UAQ goat flu epidemic

Environmental officials have dismissed claims of an outbreak of goat influenza in the emirate after a rash of unexplained deaths in herds.

UMM AL QAIWAIN // Environmental officials have dismissed claims of an outbreak of goat influenza in the emirate following a rash of unexplained deaths in herds. Sultan Abdullah Alwan, the executive director for agricultural and livestock affairs at the Ministry of Environment and Water, said there were no livestock deaths connected to any influenza cases and that instances of goats dying in Umm al Qaiwain should not be exaggerated.

His statement came after some livestock owners claimed dozens of goats had died recently because of an unknown disease. Mr Alwan said "weather changes, like a rise in temperature", could be behind the deaths and said it was not an epidemic. He also cautioned livestock owners not to mix sick animals with healthy ones, and encouraged routine visits from a veterinarian. He said the UAE was free of livestock diseases.

Some animal keepers are not convinced. Umm Khalifa said she had lost 36 goats in the last two months. She claimed all of the animals had been vaccinated. "I have been in livestock for the last 25 years, but not at any time did I see this," she said. "The goats just start coughing, stop eating and then go into coma and die." She said a veterinarian had visited her farm twice, diagnosed the goats and recommended medication.

Ms Khalifa said she had to buy some of the medications from neighbouring emirates. She urged the ministry to make more drugs available to cover the whole emirate. Abu Hussein said he had lost 55 goats, all of which had been vaccinated by a ministry veterinarian. At one time, he had 150 goats, but now has fewer than 100. "The officials may try to cover up a few things but I believe there is something wrong."

He said there is a need for more veterinarians in the emirate, saying shortages of qualified medical help were also to blame. @Email:ykakande@thenational.ae