Livelihood of small cattle farmers might be affected

Outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in cattle has been reported in Erode and Kancheepuram districts in the State. The dreaded disease could spread fast and not only reduce the milk yield permanently and affect reproductive organs but also kill the animals.

A visit to a private farm in Sethupattu village near Manimangalam in Kancheepuram district on Thursday revealed that 20 head of cattle at the farm had been affected. Cattle farmers complained that non-availability of vaccines would lead to spread of disease to various parts of the State.

When contacted, Animal Husbandry authorities confirmed that they received reports of FMD from Erode and Kancheepuram districts. However, when blood samples from the cattle were taken for analysis, the results were negative. The department distributed the buffer stock of medicine in Erode, Kancheepuram, Namakkal and Salem, where a vaccination drive has started.

S. Panchapakesan, a researcher in Animal Biotechnology, said since the disease was air-borne it could spread easily. Excessive salivation, increase in body temperature, formation of ulcer in gum pads and tongue, lesion in udder, foot and mouth are some of the symptoms.

The affected cattle would not be able to chew fodder owing to ulcer in tongue. Intake of food would come down drastically, leading to physical weakness. Over a fortnight the health condition would deteriorate drastically.

If a calf is fed by its affected mother, chances of the calf dying instantly of cardiac arrest are high.

One of the farm owners pointed out that poor farmer who depends upon one or two animals for survival would struggle to provide treatment.

A Senior Animal Husbandry Department officer said vaccine for FMD is administered twice a year. This year, the department planned to start the second round of vaccination mid-September. The department is getting the required number of vaccines from the Central government, he said.

The first round of ring vaccination for last year was done in April. A total of 99.84 lakh head of cattle were administered the vaccine. In September, the second round covered 86.26 lakh head of cattle.

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