With the district under red alert over the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) flare-up, the Animal Husbandry Department cites several reasons for the outbreak, from negligent cattle owners to unchecked flow of slaughter animals from across the State border.

Though the department is still unable to pinpoint the source of the outbreak, it does not rule out the possibility that the FMD virus serotype O may have undergone mutation. Till date, the FMD rash has spread to 53 of the total 75 panchayats in the district, the latest being Eramala village.

From April 1 to December 17, 438 head of cattle have been detected with the FMD virus. The department reports that 56 head of cattle, including calves, have succumbed to the virus. The department has distributed Rs.80,000 as compensation to four persons here.

“Outbreak may be due to several reasons, from vaccinations not being done properly and one time to faulty storage practices to the lack of awareness of the disease. We are also checking if the O strain has undergone any mutation, which may then make the cattle immune to the present course of vaccinations,” T. John Kattakayam, Chief Veterinary Officer, said.

The special squad of the department has collected around 450 samples from the district.

Dr. Kattakayam said the cattle brought in for slaughter from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh were also to blame. The situation is made worse as the department has no means to check the quality of meat or the slaughter methods. A ban has been imposed on the transport of cattle from within and outside the district. The Sales Tax assistant commissioner said special squads would be posted at Feroke, Thamarassery, and Kunhipally check-posts.

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