More than 1,500 animals, mainly cows and buffaloes, have died in Gujarat due to the infectious lumpy skin disease, which has spread in 14 districts of the State.
The State government is scrambling to contain its further spread as more than 35,000 animals are infected, alarming farmers and cattle-rearing communities in the affected districts.
“We have set up special teams to vaccinate the animals. So far, 2.68 lakh animals have been vaccinated across the State,” State Animal Husbandry Minister Raghavji Patel said.
The viral disease is spread by mosquitoes, flies, lice, wasps, by direct contact among cattle, and via contaminated food and water. Symptoms in infected animals include fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, salivation from the mouth, soft blister-like nodules all over the body, reduced milk production, and difficulty in eating, which lead to the animal’s death.
The Central government has also deputed a special team review the State government’s containment measures.
The disease has been reported in 14 districts — Kutch, Jamnagar, Devbhumi Dwarka, Rajkot, Porbandar, Morbi, Surendranagar, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Botad, Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Banaskantha and Surat.
“So far, we have received [information on] cases from 880 villages of the State,” Mr. Patel said.
According to the Minister, an extensive survey, treatment and vaccination drive involving 152 veterinary officers and 438 livestock inspectors of the Animal Husbandry Department has been undertaken, with an additional 267 outsourced veterinarians and vehicles adding to the efforts.
But Opposition party leaders slammed the State government over its slow response in tackling the infectious disease.
“The government has completely failed to tackle the disease and as a result, farmers and cattle-rearing communities are losing their precious livestock,” leader of Gujarat Congress’ farmers’ wing, Pala Ambalia, said.
He also accused the government of underplaying the spread of the disease, and the resulting casualties.
“As per the government record, less than 1,000 animals have died across the State but in Jamnagar and Dwarka districts alone, more than 1,000 animals have succumbed to the disease and thousands are still infected,” Mr. Ambalia said.