A two-member team from the Southern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (SRDDL), Bangalore, visited the Foot and Mouth disease affected villages in the district on Friday.

According to Dr. K.C. James, Joint Director, Animal Husbandry, the two senior scientists Dr. Venkitesh and Dr. Giridhar, visited six of the affected villages and collected blood samples, swab and samples from the affected portions of the animals for further analysis. “We suspect strain variation of the virus affecting the animals in the current outbreak and are awaiting the results,” Dr James said. According to him, the samples would have to undergo analysis as to which type and sub type of the virus has caused the disease and it may take up to one month to get the results.

With the death of a cow being reported from Kudavachoor, the situation has taken a serious turn. According to Dr. James, more than 400 cows in the villages of Aymanam, Arpookkara, Chengalam, Vechoor, Thlayazhom, Manjoor, Kallara, Athirampuzha and Kumarakom on the western low lying areas of the district, are affected by Foot and Mouth disease. This being a viral disease, the authorities are providing only symptomatic treatment for the cows. This include antibiotics, fly repellents, analgesics etc.

What made the situation complex was that the Animal Husbandry Department had just concluded a vaccination drive which had successfully vaccinated nearly 85 per cent of the animals in the district. Usually, when an outbreak occurs, the first step would be to provide a protective belt by vaccinating the animals in the nearby villages and thereby preventing the spread of the disease. Since a vaccination drive has been taken out recently, another round of protective vaccination was not under consideration, Dr. James said.

Foot and Mouth disease spreads through the air and the vaccination has been provided for the normal strains of viruses. However, the State was facing a complex situation as a large number of animals are brought in for slaughter from across the State. If any one of the animals was affected by the disease caused by a new variant of the virus, the efforts taken so far to prevent the disease through vaccination, becomes ineffective.

The water logged western areas have been prone to Foot and Mouth disease earlier also with similar out breaks reported in 2003 and 1996, Dr. James said.

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