The foot-and-mouth disease appears only to be spreading geographically and in intensity across the State, even as the Animal Husbandry Department reiterates that the cattle disease is “under control”.
By Wednesday, the disease had claimed 3,060 head of cattle (since September 1), according to official figures with the department, a significant jump from last week’s casualty figure of 2,060. Another 23,500 animals have been infected with the virus, as against 16,573 last week.
The disease, which so far had South Karnataka under its grip, now appears to have spread to several other districts, including those in the north of the State such as Bidar, Bellary and Belgaum.
Deputy Director of the Animal Husbandry Department Sriram Reddy, however, said the disease was “under control” and that the department was continuing its “ring vaccination” of cattle within a specified radius of affected villages.
The disease has been reported from 2,312 villages in the State, he added.
While officials assumed that the disease would abate once the monsoon retreated by the end of September, the weather has only remained cloudy and wet and therefore, conducive for the spread of the disease.
“The virus is highly contagious but also a fragile one. A spell of sunshine can help contain it. But what we have now is cloudy and damp weather which only assists in its spread,” said P. Giridhar, Joint Director of Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals. Cattle infected with the disease are susceptible to an often-fatal secondary infection called haemorrhagic septicaemia, which has been responsible for most of the fatalities among cattle and zoo animals.
Authorities at the Bannerghatta zoo, which lost several animals to the disease last month, said that barring a few deer, no other species appear to have contracted the disease recently.