DA keeps eye on suspected ‘pinkeye’ disease in South Cotabato goats

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/24 February) — The regional Department of Agriculture (DA) is closely watching the emergence of a suspected illness affecting goats called pinkeye disease in South Cotabato province, officials said.

Amalia Datukan, DA Southwestern Mindanao director, said the disease was monitored in one of the farms in Sto. Nino, South Cotabato.

“An inspection was conducted in the affected farm twice earlier this month and samples were taken for laboratory analysis,” she said, adding they are still awaiting the final diagnosis from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

In the absence of a final diagnosis the local government units of South Cotabato and Sto. Nino and the regional Agriculture department are closely monitoring the farm and have initiated measures such as antibiotic treatment, Datukan said.

Citing the report of the provincial veterinary office, the Agriculture executive said that at least 64 of the 130 goats were supposedly affected by the disease.

Lorna Lamorena, South Cotabato chief veterinarian, said that based on their initial finding, the goats were afflicted by the pinkeye disease, or infectious keratoconjunctivitis , based on their physical symptoms.

According to the regional Agriculture office, pinkeye disease in goats may be caused by several different agents, among them stress.

The stress could be a result of transporting the goats, improper nutrition, severe or dramatic weather changes or of underlying illness such as abortion or pneumonia, it added.

Pinkeye can be a serious illness in goats, Datukan noted in astatement.

Early signs of pinkeye disease include runny, red and swollen eyes. The cornea, the clear covering over the iris becomes hazy and turns opaque. The goat begins to lose its eyesight if left untreated and blindness can occur, the DA-12 office said.

Jennifer Bulawan, chief of the regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory based in General Santos City, said they conducted an inspection in the area on February 4 and on February 11.

She said that tests conducted include bacterial and fungal isolations, adding that samples for laboratory analysis were sent to the BAI for final diagnosis.

Datukan said the farm where the suspected disease occurred was a recipient of 12 heads of imported goats and sheep under the DA’s Genetic Improvement Program.

Imported from the United States, these stocks aim to improve the genetic breeds of goats in the farm in order to hasten the production of goats in the region, the regional Agriculture office said, adding they were reportedly not affected by the disease.

Castor Leo Ejercito, an animal quarantine officer of the Agriculture department, said that goat raisers “have nothing to worry about the disease since it is an ordinary disease and is self-limiting.”

It “should not cause” an alarm, he said. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)