‘As a precautionary measure, we are vaccinating sheep and goats also in areas where cattle were badly affected’
Even as the Animal Husbandry Department is carrying out a drive to vaccinate cattle to check the spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), officials say so far there have been no reports of sheep and goats being affected.
Sheep and goats, which are among the cloven hoofed animals susceptible to the viral disease, are consumed in large numbers during Ayudha Puja and Bakrid. Buffaloes and bullocks, which are over 12 years old, are also sacrificed during Bakrid.
Additional Director of Animal Husbandry Nagaraj Shetty said the vaccination drive had been extended to cover sheep and goats also as a precautionary measure.
“So far, there is no evidence of sheep and goats being affected by the disease. But, as a precautionary measure, we are vaccinating them also in areas where cattle were badly affected,” he said.
Mr. Shetty sought to clarify that the disease was not a public health hazard. “Neither does it spread to human beings nor will consumption of an afflicted animal’s meat cause any health hazard,” he said. According to a recent count, the total population of sheep and goats in Karnataka was 96 lakh and 62 lakh respectively, officials said.
Meanwhile, the number of cattle affected by FMD in the State since September 1 this year has gone up to 18,828, and so far 2,396 heads of cattle have died of the disease
Blisters inside the mouth and on the feet, fever, and excessive secretion of saliva are among the symptoms of the disease.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Mutton Merchants’ Association president Mujeeb Khuraishi said there was no concern among people about the disease.
He said the price of sheep and goats had skyrocketed due to the demand ahead of Bakrid.
“There is limited availability of sheep and goats in southern Karnataka and we depend on supply from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh to a large extent. But, transport of sheep and goats has been affected due to the Telangana agitation,” he said.
The price of a 10–12 kg sheep, which used to be around Rs. 5,500, has increased substantially. “Some people are even paying Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 13,000 a sheep,” he said, and hoped that the price would come down if supplies come from Andhra Pradesh.
Sheep and goats brought from different parts of Karnataka are being sold at various venues in the city.