EUS outbreak threat amidst severe flooding


By Patience Lunda:

The Ministry of Agriculture has warned of a pending outbreak of the fish disease, Epizootic Ulcerative Syndome (EUS), due to severe flooding in most parts of the country.

According to the ministry, the flooding has led to water from infected sources spilling over to non-infected water bodies.
The outbreak is expected in the months of May and June when the cold season starts.


In an interview, Chief Animal Health and Livestock Development Officer, Gilson Njunga has said the disease is already in the water but is in the form spores, which are expected to germinate when water temperatures become very low.

Njunga said once the disease hits, it remains endemic forever hence there is no effective treatment for EUS-infected fish in the wild and in aquaculture ponds, but lime is applied to minimize losses in infected fish ponds.

He then disclosed that they are preparing farmers because the disease has social and economic implications both to the country and the farmers.


“We are encouraging farmers to build dykes around fish ponds—because the severe flooding has washed away most dykes—so that ponds should be safe when severe flooding continues so that their ponds should not be mixed with the contaminated water sources,” Njunga said.

The disease is seasonal and it occurs when water temperatures are below 24 Degrees Celsius and also when the water PH is below seven.

Some of the measures that the ministry has been instituting in the affected areas include suspension of fishing in the affected rivers and dams, ban of fish sales around the affected areas and drainage of affected ponds.

On his part, Leonard Chimwaza, an agricultural commentator, suggested the need to have a containment and surveillance plan, in addition to sensitizing the farmers.

“Government needs to prepare for this disease by among others capacitating fisheries extension officers with knowledge and skills on prevention and management of the disease and it must also have a containment and surveillance plan in order to deal with any occurrence of the disease,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, in conjunction with Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao) are in the process of coming up with a contingency plan for EUS control.

The first case of EUS was discovered at Dambo village, which is under Mlonyeni Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Mchinji District, in 2020 and it has since spread to Lilongwe, Dowa, Nkhotakota, Kasungu and Mzimba.

Some of the affected rivers affected include North and South Rukuru, Dwangwa, Bua and Lilongwe.

EUS is a highly contagious fungal disease that mostly affects fresh water fish. The disease does not directly affect human beings but can cause diarrhea in children and over vulnerable groups.

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