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Spread of foot-and-mouth disease raises concerns

Staff Reporter
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30 per cent dip in milk production reported

A cow infected with foot-and-mouth disease in Thrissur.— PHOTO: K.C. Sowmish
A cow infected with foot-and-mouth disease in Thrissur.— PHOTO: K.C. Sowmish

The spread of foot-and-mouth disease in the district has left the Animal Husbandry Department a worried lot. The disease has been reported from various areas in the district including Tholoor, Edakalathur, Punnayurkulam, Arangotukara, Varavoor, Perumbadappu, Vadakkekkad and Etumanoor. A crisis management team headed by the chief veterinary officer is leading the treatment and preventive drive.

Though farmers had been warned about the disease well in advance, many were reluctant to take preventive measures, said veterinary expert P.B. Giridas. “The disease is caused by virus. It can be controlled with vaccination. The disease has been reported in cattle that were not vaccinated,” he said.

Symptoms of FMD include fever and vesicles with subsequent erosions in the mouth, nose, muzzle, feet or teats. So the animal stops taking food and water. The disease may be transmitted by direct or indirect contact with infected animals, contact with contaminated cattle feed, water and vehicles.

Experts said the disease spread in the State through infected cattle brought from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Lack of facilities to screen animals at check-posts was a serious concern, they said.

There are also complaints that the Animal Husbandry Department had not taken enough steps to prevent the spread of the disease, when there was report of the disease spreading in the neighbouring States.

The district administration has advised farmers to get animals vaccinated and to minimise animal or material contact across farms. The infected animals should be isolated and proper steps taken to disinfect the premises in which they were kept.

There are also reports of a shortage of medicines in the district. The cattle farmers are running from pillar to post as there is shortage of veterinary experts and livestock assistants. The Animal Husbandry Department has asked farmers to stop grazing animals in the forest as checking the disease would be nearly impossible if wild animals were infected.

Meanwhile, the Dairy Development Corporation has reported a 30 per cent dip in milk production in the district in the last two months. “Decrease in milk production is natural as the infected animals decline to take feed and water,” said Dr. Giridas.

Along with the Veterinary Department, animal welfare organisations are also providing treatment and medicines for the infected animals.

“We are mainly concentrating on stray cattle. In the last one week, we have provided treatment for nine stray cows in the city, of which four have been cured,” said Preethi Sreevalsan, founder of People for Animal Welfare Services (PAWS).

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