Jackson M. Ncebere, Paul G. Mbuthia, Robert M. Waruiru, and Peter K. Gathumbi
University of Nairobi, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, Department of Veterinary Pathology, Microbiology and Parasitology
Researchers from the Department of Veterinary Pathology, Microbiology and Parasitology have published their findings on the diverse effects the “Opuntia stricta”- a type of Cacti plant- has had on goats within Laikipia County. The journal Article titled ‘Gross and Histopathology of Goats Feeding on Opuntia stricta in Laikipia County, Kenya’ appeared in the Veterinary Medicine International Journal – Volume 2021 Full article here.
The study reveals Opuntia Stricta has invaded the northern part of Laikipia County, Kenya and significantly reduced prime grazing land. “This plant species has spines, thorns, and other sharp pointed structures to protect themselves from herbivores and other animals feeding on them. The goats mainly feed on the ripened fruits, especially during the dry seasons.”
The study was conducted in parts of Lakipia County between October 2018 and February 2019. This study determined the pathology in goats feeding on this plant in Laikipia County. 18 goats that had eaten the plant and (6)six others that were raised in a ranch without O. stricta were purchased for the study. All study animals were clinically examined for lesions and euthanized for necropsy examination.
During the study; the researchers found the goats that had grazed on Opuntia Strica “had poor body condition, wounds on various body parts, and diarrhea. Variable numbers of O. stricta spines occurred externally on the skin throughout the body and elicited pain, swelling, and ulcerative wounds on affected parts. Internal lesions were observed in subcutaneous tissues (100%), together with stomatitis, cheilitis, gingivitis, glossitis, abomasitis (100%), rumen, reticulum, omasum thinning and loss of papillae (72.2%), esophagitis, and duodenitis (5.6%). Carcasses had gelatinous fat and muscular atrophy”
The Results also showed that the body condition of the goats that had consumed the plant had “gross lesions, were in pain as they walked, emaciated, dull, had hunched backs, lame, rough hair coat, and soiled perineal region due to diarrhea. Researchers also observed some “spines of O. stricta had attached on the entire skin, over the ear lobes (making them swollen and ulcerative), eyes, nostrils, and lips of all goats, (100%) causing dermatitis, severe otitis externa, cataract, blepharitis, keratoconjunctivitis, rhinitis, and cheilitis. A majority of the affected goats (94.4%) had ulcerative wounds on the lips. Some of the affected goats had oral lesions (stomatitis, gingivitis, and glossitis) characterized by swellings, lacerations, wounds, and ulcers and could not close the oral cavity or chew cuds. The carcasses of the goats also revealed internal gross lesions in esophagus, stomachs and duodenum. Histopathological lesions were consistently observed in organs with gross lesions in all O. stricta-affected goats. External lesions occurred on the skin including the ears, external lips’ surface, and mucocutaneous junction.
In conclusion; the study recommended that appropriate measure to manage the spread of O. stricta in Laikipia County need to be instituted in order to prevent the associated impact on lives and livelihoods of communities living in the area.
To find out more about the researchers portofolio: