Another nilgai death attributed to ‘other infection’

Foot-and-mouth disease has claimed the life of an adult nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), one of the largest Asian antelopes, at Mysore zoo. This is the first death reported at a zoo since the outbreak of the disease in the State.

Tests on samples taken from the carcass by the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals, Bangalore, confirmed death was due to foot-and-mouth disease.

Another nilgai also died at the zoo but death was attributed to “other infection”, though the animal had shown foot-and-mouth disease-like symptoms.

Also, about five to eight long-legged antelopes, which are weak and old, were suspected to have been infected by foot-and-mouth disease. They, however, are eating grass and other feed, indicating their recovery, said B.P. Ravi, Executive Director, Mysore zoo.

Confirming these deaths, Mr. Ravi told The Hindu that about 75 nilgais had been kept away from the display section in the last 20 days. The deaths occurred in 15 days. All animals are being administered antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, he added.

“We are keeping a close watch on the health of hoofed animals and other animal species which can attract the viral infection. We have taken all precautions,” Mr. Ravi said.

He said that nilgai, a large antelope, is highly vulnerable to the disease as it is not from this habitat. They lack resistance to diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease. As a precautionary measure, only one keeper is being allowed to feed the nilgais, he said.

Mr. Ravi, however, said that there were no symptoms of foot-and-mouth disease in other animals, including the Cape buffalo, the Indian guar, giraffe, blackbuck, spotted deer and swamp deer. There are about 350 animals of 10 to 14 species at the zoo and these are being closely monitored following the outbreak of the disease, he said.

Elephants and gaurs have been vaccinated against foot-and-mouth disease, while other animals have been given antibiotics. Elaborate measures have been initiated to prevent infection to zoo animals, with a team of zoo veterinarians closely monitoring the situation.

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