Written by Dr. Beppe Di Giulio
I, a veterinarian based in Arusha, Tanzania, would like to report a high morbidity/mortality in sheep and goats in the Southern part of Kenya and Northern part of Tanzania, possibly caused by Coenurus cerebralis. The term “possibly” is applied since the diagnosis is based only upon the finding of cysts localized outside the animal’s brains.
The Maasai call the disease “Ormilo” (head disease). They started complaining about it some 10 years ago; during the past 3 years, the reported morbidity-mortality has reached around 20 percent. Today, Ormilo is the main Maasai’s concern among the small ruminant diseases/parasitoses. Ormilo is reported to affect both goats and sheep at any time of the year. It is reported to be more prevalent in 1 to 3-year-old animals.
In the past 3 years, I carried out 103 post mortem examinations; the reported age is also confirmed by my findings, mainly on the Tanzanian side. They were applied in slaughtered animals or in animals bought for examination. The market price of diseased animals is usually half that of unaffected animals.
During the most recent investigation (Longido, Tanzania), we randomly bought 5 out of the 23 small ruminants [sheep, goats] having nervous signs. Therefore, it should be considered a biased sample. The total number of animals on sale was 143. All [of the examined] animals had cerebral cysts. No other causes for nervous signs were found.
Looking at the number of postmortems carried out, the livestock owners are able to identify 100 percent of the diseased animals. It is interesting to note that the Maasai shepherds, knowledgeable about animal diseases and their epidemiology, are not aware of the role of dogs as sources of coenurus infection in their sheep and goats.
As far as I know, few people are aware of the phenomenon and nothing has been done to tackle this major problem. Hopefully, this posting will raise awareness among the concerned institutions/organizations and lead to the dissemination of the required information.
Dr. Beppe Di Giulio
Managing Director,Veterinary Services and Consultancies (VSC)
Kiltex Rd. 6, PO Box 13188
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