After the suspected anthrax death of a young male rhinoceros at Delhi Zoo last Friday, the authorities have closed the animal enclosure for public view and put 20-odd staff there on precautionary medical treatment.
“Post-mortem of the rhinoceros that died last week had indicated anthrax infection which prompted us to send the samples to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. The results are awaited. Though we suspect that chances of an anthrax infection are slim, we are monitoring the other animals and have put them on preventive medication. Animals are also being checked for any symptom of the disease,” said Zoo vet Paneer Selvam.
He said that the dead rhinoceros' blood and food samples have been sent for testing, while the remaining two rhinoceros (who shared the enclosure) have been shifted to a new enclosure.
“What has us worried though is the fact that as per the zoo records anthrax infection had killed one of the zoo inmates in 1978. The anthrax spores can stay alive for nearly hundred years and with the right environment it can become infectious again. We have, however, put in place all precautionary measures to ensure that no other animal suffers,” said Dr. Selvam.
“We are awaiting the results of the tests for confirmation of any anthrax presence,” said zoo curator R. A. Khan.
The Delhi Zoo last week had lost its only three-and-a-half-year-old rhino – Junior Raja – and the post-mortem examination was conducted on Sunday. The body was cremated after samples were taken.
The zoo authorities have said there is no danger to the public because of any anthrax presence as the animal enclosures are at least 100 metres away from the public.