BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU
ARUA: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 02, 2021
Dr. Willy Nguma said cats are meant to eat rats, the main hosts for fleas that are carriers of diseases such as plague whose recent outbreak in Ituri Province of Democratic Republic of Congo is worrying local leaders.
“Eating animals like cats can be risky, research has pointed out that cat meat is potentially perilous as cats are often infected with toxoplasmosis and other contagious diseases,” he warned.
The Arua district veterinary officer was responding to reports that among the communities bordering DR Congo, eating of wild cats and foxes has become wide spread.
Earlier, John Bosco, the LC3 chairman of Logiri sub-county was quoted in the media as saying that youths in his sub-county were counting on cats for animal protein.
“They have finished eating all the cats here which has led to explosion in the population of rodents. Some of the cats are killed and the meat sold in DR Congo,” he claimed.
Logiri was one of the sub-counties in West Nile where plague was endemic in 1990s and early 2000s before a combined effort by the infectious disease institute and other medical partners routed out the epidemic.
Dr. Nguma noted that the culture of eating wild cats and other small wild animals is also prevalent among the communities in other Arua district sub-counties and Ayivu Division in Arua City along the Uganda-DR Congo frontier.
But some residents insist that they find it hard to suspend eating of the local delicacy because buying domestic animal meat is expensive.
“The other day I found a dead cat on the road. It was knocked by a car and it weighed 1.5kg. Buying the same quantity of meat from the market would have cost me sh22,500, which money I don’t have,” Albert Aleti, 24, a resident of Nyaunyau trading center in Ayivu Division said.
Dr. Nguma said people who find buying meat from the market to be expensive should rear small animals like guinea pigs, rabbits and chicken instead of resorting to eating cats and foxes.
He called on the local leaders to sensitise their communities to desist from eating wild animals and protect them from the potential danger of contracting zoonotic diseases.