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    An outbreak of an epidemic disease affecting camels has been identified in Northern Kenya, even as Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett assured farmers the ailment has been contained.

    Bett, who was speaking during the launch of second East Africa Emerging Pandemic Threats Program, however, said the disease has not been classified. 

    “It is still very early (to tell what kind of disease it is). What I can say is that early detection efforts have confirmed that there is a new disease there and samples have been taken and tests are being conducted at our labs in Kabete,” Bett said.

    The minister said earlier tests had ruled it out as being one of the major viral diseases such as Ebola, Corona and Marburg. 

    East Africa Emerging Pandemic Threats Program is a partnership between United Nations', Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and member states in monitoring diseases. 

    Purpose

    The Pandemic Threats Program was developed in response to revelation that 75 per cent of all emerging diseases globally are attributed to the ingestion of meat from both domesticated and wild animals.

    Its main focus will be to lead early detection efforts and management of new and existing animal diseases.

    “About 60 per cent of all human diseases and 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. Most human infections with zoonoses come from livestock. What is even more scary is we live with and feast on these animals,” said the CS.

    Dangerous

    Zoonoses are diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans —among them SARS, influenza rabies, toxoplasmosis and HIV.

    Zoonoses are responsible for 2.4 billion human illnesses and 2.2 million deaths every year. Cattle, poultry, wild birds, bats, dogs, and cats are the most common disease transmitters.  

    Bett said the Ebola and Corona viruses are the most prevalent of human disease causing micro-organisms picked from animals.

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    South African company, Amka Organico is out in Nairobi marketing a new product that has been confirmed to reduce pit latrine and septic tank sludge and keep odors away.

    Super Septic is an enzyme-based product sold as a powder that dissolves into the sludge, increasing its biodegradation rate.

    Purpose

    Organico say that the product helps in preventing the contamination of soils surrounding pit latrines and septic tanks by ensuring that only purified water seeps through. This ultimately helps keep water in wells and boreholes dug close to the latrines safe for domestic use.

    It also damages the breeding areas for flies, hence keeping areas surrounding the latrines and septic tanks free of the insects.

    “Super septic is made of a consortium of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria selected for their ability to degrade organic waste. Bacteria produce hundreds of enzymes in response to organic matter presents in the environment.

    The enzymes then  break down proteins, starches, fats, oils, grease and other solids into smaller particles,” said a brief from the manufacturers.

    Super Septic suggests using it weekly for the first month by emptying the contents of one sachet into a bucket of water, mixing and pouring into the latrine or septic tank as an appropriate level of the helpful bacteria is established. After that, one use per month is said to be sufficient.

    The product is sold in a package containing 24 sachets, for KSh2400 or KSh250 per sachet and is available at the Star Mall, along Tom Mboya Street in Nairobi.

    Strict use

    However, the product cannot be used in pits containing soap or other detergents, because these products damage the active enzymes that help in the biodegradation of sludge.

    It is, therefore, ideal for use in septic tanks carrying animal waste, and in pit latrines that do not receive bathing water.

    Al Dawood Distributors, who handle the marketing of the product in Kenya can also be reached through phone number 0780884488.

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    Mint, the herb that is popularly known as a garnish for meat and alcoholic drinks, can variously be used in animal and plant pest control.

    The plant has for several years now been used in controlling white flies in flower farms.

    In practice

    A number of mint plants positioned in various spots around flower greenhouses, release a scent that attracts the flies to them, at which point they are sprayed with pesticides.

    “Dr. Antony Wairimu, a veterinarian and crop management specialist, who describes this as a push-pull approach, says that the strategy helps reduce the usage of pesticides on the flowers.

    “This system can be used on other crops like beans and tomatoes, which are susceptible to while flies. It makes for cost-effectiveness, because pesticides are only used at several points as opposed to spraying whole farms,” said Dr. Wairimu.

    The crop also attracts aphids and spidermites.

    Animal pests

    Strangely, mint repels mosquitoes, mites and fleas and can, therefore, be used in controlling these pests in animals and in human living spaces.

    By planting a few plants next to your house, the plant will help keep mosquitoes away and rubbing it on animal fur, helps control mites and fleas.

     

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