Despite a relatively successful vaccination campaign undertaken by the Animal Disease Control Project of the government, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks have been reported from different parts of the district, including the City Corporation limits, in the past two months. Veterinary officials have attributed the cause of spread of virus to the transit of unvaccinated livestock from the neighbouring States.

According to K. Jancy, district coordinator of the Animal Disease Control Project, the outbreak of the disease has been reported from around 15 panchayats, including Eramala, Mukkam, Kunnamangalam, Koduvally and Thamarassery, besides some places in the Corporation limits. She maintained that over 85 per cent of the total 1,10,000 livestock of the district, including cows, bulls, buffalos and pigs, had been vaccinated during the months-long vaccination drive.

“The remaining 15 per cent accounted for the ‘leftover’ animals in convalescent, diseased or pregnant stage,” said Dr. Jancy, who maintained that there was no use in vaccinating animals in those stages. Unlike in neighbouring States, the severity of the outbreak was less here. “In each cases of reported outbreak, there were only one or two affected animals,” she said. The only instance of a major outbreak in the district, according to her, was in Panangad panchayat where around 50 heifers distributed by a milk corporative society was affected. “However, there were not many cases of reported death,” said Dr. Jancy.

In most cases, the affected animals in the district were found to have been brought from the neighbouring districts, said Chief Veterinary Officer John Kattakkayam. “There was no effective mechanism to ensure that only vaccinated animals are brought to the State from other places,” said Dr. Kattakkayam. Ensuring vaccination and reporting cases immediately in case of symptoms are the only measures to adopt. The animals take around 15 days to show the symptoms. “It can be during this incubation period that these animals are transported from other States, increasing the risk factor,” said P. Muraleedharan, District Epidemiologist.

Though the government had imposed a ban on the entry of cattle to the State from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka recently even that could not be enforced strictly.Even that ban had to be withdrawn later due to pressures from different quarters.