Fish disease, epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS), has hit ponds, streams and rivers in Rumphi District, thereby threatening the livelihoods of about 300 fish farmers.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife also reported huge mortalities of fish with wounds in Lake Kazuni in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve in Mzimba which has prompted the Department of Fisheries to embark on a massive awareness campaign against the disease.
In an interview, Rumphi district fisheries officer Edward Mkandawa said sensitisation meetings with fish farmers through fish farming clubs, associations and village development committees will create awareness on preventive measures of the outbreak.
He said draining of fish ponds and burning or burying of all EUS-infected fish are the remedy to containing the further spread of the outbreak.
“In this regard, fish farmers are advised against reserving fingerlings from infected ponds which harbour disease-causing pathogens,” said Mkandawa.
One of the fish farmers, Sphiwe Gondwe, blamed the outbreak on fish buyers who bring their own nets when harvesting fish.
“Fisheries experts discourage sharing of nets because this can spread diseases,” she said.
Rumphi district veterinary officer Hazwell Gondwe warned against consumption of EUS-infected fish as they are a source of secondary infections such as malaria and diarrhoea.
“At council level, we will inspect all markets to check against trading in such fishes,” he said.
Gondwe called for the involvement of all stakeholders in the fish and public health value chain to safeguard the public against the outbreak.
Two weeks ago, Department of Fisheries principal fisheries officer Sabstone Unyolo advised farmers to look out for any symptoms of EUS on their fish.
Mchinji was the first district to report the disease last year.
However, farmers contained the disease and more cases have not been reported yet.
The disease was also reported in Lilongwe, Dowa and Kasungu districts.