1,450 head of cattle infected with the virus in the region

The foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus continues to plague the Upper Kuttanad villages of Niranom, Peringara, and Nedumprom, and the Thiruvalla municipality.

George Varghese, District Public Relations Officer of the Animal Husbandry Department, told The Hindu that as many as 2,500 head of cattle in the district remained infected with the FMD virus. Of these, not less than 1,450 were in the Upper Kuttanad region alone.

Dr. Varghese said the failure of the municipal authorities in Thiruvalla to cooperate with the department’s drive against FMD was exacerbating the situation.

Dr. Varghese said Reji K. Oommen, senior veterinary surgeon in Thiruvalla, had complained that the municipal authorities were yet to comply with his repeated direction to close down the cattle market at Thirumoolapuram.

He said as many as 247 FMD cases had been reported from the Thiruvalla municipal limits alone as on Monday.

The active involvement of the Puramattom grama panchayat in the anti-FMD drive had yielded good results in the past one month, he said. The panchayat had closed the cattle market at Vennikkulam 45 days ago as per the directions of the veterinary official concerned, and no fresh case had been reported from any part of the panchayat in the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, small-scale dairy farmers in Upper Kuttanad are a dejected lot, with the disease severely affecting their finances. A good number of them have complained of drastic reduction in milk in cows that have been cured of the disease. Dairy farming has been a means of generating additional revenue for small-scale paddy cultivators in this part of the State. Many farmers have purchased high-yielding variety of cows by taking bank loans. The FMD scourge has put paid to their dreams.

Dr. Varghese said the absence of natural barriers such as hills, coupled with water-logging, was causing the airborne disease to spread rapidly.

He said the total cattle casualty owing to the infection in the district had been recorded at 130. The department had disbursed Rs.3 lakh in compensation to the affected farmers.

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