The Ministry of Agriculture has announced that there is a suspected outbreak of disease called Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS) that is attacking fish.
The outbreak has been identified to have hit Dambo Village in Mchinji’s Mlonyeni Extension Planning Area (EPA).
In a statement, Ministry of Agriculture’s Secretary, Gray Nyandule Phiri said the disease has so far spread to other water bodies within Mchinji and that 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.
“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, reduced livelihood of subsistence and commercial fishermen.”
The biggest concern, according to Nyandule Phiri, 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 national GDP’s contribution from fish if not timely controlled.
“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.
“However detailed investigations are still on going to establish the magnitude of spread and map the extent of the problem.”
Nyandule Phiri said 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 some measures that include temporary suspension of transportation and selling of live or dead fish around the affected areas.
It has also suspended fishing from the infected rivers and dams and advises the public to avoid using same fishing equipment used in the infected waters to other water bodies.
The fishermen are also asked to avoid carrying water from the infected rivers and fish ponds to other water bodies and to drain 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.
The Ministry also asks people not to eat sick fish to prevent them from suffering from other diseases like diarrhea.
“The Ministry is currently working tirelessly to contain the disease and will continue updating the general public on the situation from time to time,” Nyandule Phiri said.
“The Ministry is, therefore, urging the fishermen, fish farmers and the general public to cooperate with its officials and the police during the implementation of these measures.”