Wild animals have been entering farms in affected areas

The foot and mouth disease spreading fast among cattle at Marayur and Kanthallur can affect wildlife as many animals from the nearby forests enter the cultivated areas.

Veterinary experts, led by K.J. Mariyamma, District Animal Welfare Officer, visited the villages on Thursday and collected samples.

Ms. Mariyamma told The Hindu that the disease was fast spreading at Rajakkad also. A survey last week confirmed that the disease had affected over 100 head of cattle. The viral disease spread through air and contact, and hence more cattle and wild animals would be infected.

She said three veterinary surgeons had been deputed to the affected areas and the cattle vaccinated.

Ms. Mariyamma said that preliminary data showed that six cows, two calves and five goats had died of the disease. But unofficial reports said 140 animals died at Marayur and Kanthallur.

The main affected areas are Anackalpetty, Michealgiri, Missionvayal, Kuttiyanad, Karsanad, Chanalmedu and Nachiyvayal. The absence of a veterinary doctor at Marayur, where the veterinary surgeon of Kanthallur was in charge, did not help matters. The apathy of the Animal Husbandry Department is alleged to be the reason for the fast spread of the disease since being noticed in June, when some cattle died.

Ms. Mariyamma said the vaccination, scheduled to be held as part of a State-wide project, could not be done in the affected areas as the staff had gone on a strike, making the situation serious. However, she said that immediate remedial measures had been started and the officials were observing the situation.

Rajamany, a farmer at Missionvayal, said he had lost 24 goats. Madasami said his seven goats and two cows died. Selvaraj of Chanalmedu said he had lost 10 goats.

Mr. Madasami said over the phone that he had visited the veterinary hospital with his affected cattle. But there was no surgeon. He said the worst-affected area was Missionvayal and every family there had lost cattle, taking the toll to over 50 there.

It is feared that the wild animals entering the farm areas can turn carriers of the virus. A wild gaur was found dead in a farm at Anackalpetty, in addition to another one killed at Mangalapara.

Sabu Varghese, Wildlife Warden, Marayur, said the gaur at Mangalapara died as it fell from a rocky hill. However, there was a threat of wild animals turning into carriers of the disease.

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