The need for awareness raising on the causes and treatment of mastitis in livestock among pastoralists in southern Ethiopia
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Amenu, K., Grace, D., Szonyi, B. and Wieland, B. 2016. The need for awareness raising on the causes and treatment of mastitis in livestock among pastoralists in southern Ethiopia. Presented at the First Joint International Conference of the Association of Institutions for Tropical Veterinary Medicine and the Society of Tropical Veterinary Medicine, Berlin, Germany, 4-8 September 2016. Hawassa, Ethiopia, Hawassa University.
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Ethiopia has high prevalence of clinical and subclinical mastitis in different livestock species and production systems and these contribute substantially to poor productivity in affected herds. Thus far, studies have focused on identification of microbial pathogens and associated risk factors for mastitis. However, relatively little is known about the knowledge and beliefs of livestock keepers regarding prevailing livestock health problems in general and mastitis in particular. An accurate understanding of these beliefs would be central to the design of effective disease control programs that give due consideration to the livestock keepers. As a first step, we set out to conduct a qualitative study aimed at exploring the knowledge and belief surrounding the causes, clinical signs and treatments for mastitis in (agro-) pastoral communities in southern Ethiopia. In four village administrations of Yabello district of Borana zone, different participatory tools were used to collect qualitative data. Individual interviews were held with 40 women using a pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire guide. Four focus group discussions with women were also carried out (one in each village) and informal discussion were held with different community members. The data was analysed qualitative by repeated reading to identify different themes. Mastitis is locally known as ‘dhukkuba muchaa”, which translates to ‘disease of teats’. Those interviewed classified mastitis into three types: (1) tick infestation (dirandisa), (2) swelling of udder often with pus discharge (nyaqarsa) and (3) acute mastitis caused by ‘evil eye’ (buda) associated with bloody milk. Tick infestation was perceived to directly cause mechanical damage to udder tissue or to result in swelling leading to nyaqarsa. Our analysis also revealed a strong perception that acute mastitis is caused by 'evil eye'; generally affected cows are with large udders mostly during late pregnancy and early lactation. The pastoralists often treat mastitis by combining both modern and traditional methods. Hand removal and acarcide application were the preferred methods for limiting tick infestation while swelling and ‘evil eye’ cases were treated with antibiotics (e.g. oxytetracycline). The study also revealed that specific herbs, only known by the herbalists, were used for traditional treatment of mastitis and although this information could not be divulged at the time, it should form the subject of further investigation. Traditional treatment for evil eye was often administered through nostrils, raising questions about its effectiveness. It is interesting that the pastoralists associated mastitis to tick infestation which is compatible with existing scientific evidence. However, the misperception of causes for acute mastitis as ‘evil eye’ can be problematic as far as the application of appropriate treatment and management of the disease is concerned and highlights the need for capacity building on causes of mastitis and how they can be treated.