The recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Kerala has claimed the lives of 4,705 head of cattle across the State and affected 51,581 head of animals since August last year, the Assembly has been informed.

Replying to a submission by M.P. Vincent in the Assembly on Monday, Minister for Animal Husbandry K.P. Mohanan said preventive measures had been stepped up to arrest the spread of the disease.

Claiming that the FMD outbreak was now under control, he said, “Ring vaccination is being carried out in the areas around the affected locations and diseased animals are being treated free of cost. Adequate funds have been sanctioned for procurement of medicines and disinfectants at the district level. Experts from the Southern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Bangalore and the All India Coordinated Research Project on FMD have confirmed that the O strain of the virus is responsible for the outbreak in Kerala”.

The Minister said the import of cattle from neighbouring States had been temporarily banned to prevent the spread of the disease.

“The Animal Husbandry Department has deployed crisis management teams and rapid action force for emergency operations. An amount of Rs.1.09 crore has been disbursed as compensation for dead animals,” he said.

Powerful vaccine

Earlier, moving the submission, Mr. Vincent said the FMD outbreak was threatening to cripple the dairy sector in the State.

“The 40 per cent loss in milk production has created a crisis for dairy farmers. The disease has affected animals in the Thrissur zoo and threatens wildlife,” he said.

Acknowledging the steps taken by the government to contain the disease, Mr. Vincent called for the introduction of more powerful vaccines and disease-resistant hybrid cows.

He also stressed the need for more vigilance at border check posts.

Pointing out that the vaccines used for immunisation of cattle were not effective, former Minister C. Divakaran called for a system to monitor the potency of vaccines.