NAIROBI, Kenya

A mystery disease has killed over 70 camels in northeastern Kenya, locals told Anadolu Agency on Friday.

Most of the unexplained deaths have occurred in Mandera County, inhabited mostly by nomadic pastoralists.

Ahmed Bilal, a herder who has lost 20 camels in just a week, says the community is facing a dire situation and needs help immediately.

“So many of our camels have died mysteriously, especially here in Mandera. Most of these cases are in Banissa and Ramu areas, where the rains have been favorable and there is plenty of pasture,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“We don’t know where this disease has come from, and we need livestock specialists to come and help us find a cure. We want Kenyans to know that this disease, if not controlled, will lead to hunger and poverty. Many more people have lost their camels too but are yet to report the deaths.”

Mandera, which borders Somalia and Ethiopia, has a vibrant livestock business, with traders coming from across the border to buy camels that are sold for no less than $800 each.

Speaking to Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation earlier this week, Shamsi Mohamud, the county’s chief livestock officer, said lab tests have so far been inconclusive.

She said the tests have been conducted for seven diseases, including parainfluenza and Trypanosoma.

“We have received three test results from Kabete Veterinary Laboratory and all of them were negative. We are waiting for four more and hope they will help us ascertain the exact cause,” she said.

Another official, Claudio Sortum, said the infected camels showed symptoms of parainfluenza, such as difficulty in breathing and movement.

“Until we get the final test results, we continue to suspect parainfluenza as the cause of the reported deaths,” Sortum, the county’s head of veterinary services, told the paper.

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