The foot-and-mouth disease has been detected in 741 head of cattle in the district between June and December. So far, 83 head of cattle have died due to the disease.

Most number of cases has been reported from Kunnathunadu taluk.

The outbreak of the disease has been reported from 16 panchayats in the district – Marady, Karumaloor, Kottuvally, Manjapra, Mookkannoor, Kodanad, Parakkadavu, Thuravur, Paingottur, Nellikuzhi, Maneedu, Edathala, Edavanakkad, Tripunithura, Perumbavur, and Ayavana.

A meeting held here on Friday to take stock of the situation in the wake of the outbreak of the epidemic decided to expand the coverage of preventive vaccination.

K.Udayavarman, director, Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals, Palod, said that free treatment would be extended to all affected cattle. A direction in this regard has been given to animal husbandry officers across the State.

The government has already banned the transportation of cattle from outside. Mr. Udayavarman said that cattle markets should not operate till further orders.

Compensation sought

Paul Kunnath, district animal husbandry officer, said that the functioning of slaughterhouses should also be restrained to contain the spread of the disease. Dairy farmers has demanded doubling the compensation allotted by the government. They said that Rs. 20,000 for dead cattle owing to the disease was insufficient, as a cow yielding more than 10 litres of milk in the morning has a price tag of about Rs. 40,000 in the market. A demand was also made to fix compensation for the loss of calves to the disease.

Mr. Kunnath said that animal husbandry squads are functioning in all panchayats in Ernakulam to contain the disease. He urged the public to be vigilant and the cattle owners not to sell diseased cattle for slaughtering as it would make the already bad situation worse.

Since, pigs and gaurs could also be carriers of the foot and mouth disease, people residing near forest areas have been asked to take preventive vaccines at the earliest.

Interest on the bank loans of ordinary dairy farmers should be relaxed. Legal hurdles should not created in the delivery of maximum possible assistance to farmers. They also wanted long term projects for dairy farmers.

Vinod Kumar, assistant professor with the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, said that preventive vaccines should be administered in one go in 70-80 per cent of cattle in an area for the vaccination to be effective. Cattle markets and slaughter houses caused the outbreak of the disease in the State against which dairy farmers should be alert. He said that professors from the veterinary university would visit each district to study about the disease.

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