Foot-and-Mouth disease (FMD) of the cattle is reaching epidemic proportions in the State, leading to death of about 1200 bovines including buffalos. A shanty was closed in north-west Tamil Nadu and Animal Husbandry officials are working closely with local communities to contain the disease.
The situation is serious particularly in Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur and Mayiladuthurai.
A senior Animal Husbandry department officer conceded that about 1,200 cattle would have died in the State due to FMD outbreak. Erode, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Tiruvannamalai and Cuddalore districts where the outbreak of FMD had been reported.
In the worst affected districts, about 8,000 animals that have been infected in which approximately 500 cattle have succumbed.
Most of the affected animals have crossed the active infection stage.
When contacted Animal Husbandry authorities said they have stepped up vigil in the districts where cattle mortalities were reported. Senior officers from the Animal Husbandry department are camping in Nagapattinam and Tiruvarur districts to coordinate efforts. Another officer from the Animal Husbandry department said in some of the places the local people were complaining about the death of their cattle, as rumours spread that the government had proposed to pay compensation to the cattle owners.
R. Parthasarathi, a cattle farmer from Kovankudi village near Mayiladuthurai in Nagapattinam district said cattle had, in the past, survived FMD attacks.
But this time even the buffalos had become victims.
The spread of the FMD appears to have begun in January this year and two months later about 10 cattle died in his village, Mr Parthasarathy said. In Tranquibar taluk alone nearly 100 cattle died due to FMD attack in Poompuhar, Thirukkadaiyur, Aappur, Chembonarkoil, Aarupathi and Vilanagar villages. “Only in the last 20 days the problem has become very severe in the area,” Mr Parthasarathi said.
In Tiruchi district officials said they had vaccinated 3.10 lakh heads of cattle since September 15 and the early intervention has largely contained the spread of the disease.
“The district Collector had instructed panchayat heads to coordinate with us and ensure that all cattle are vaccinated without much omission,” said I.Chinnadurai, Joint Director, Animal Husbandry, Tiruchi.
In Erode, the district Collector V.K. Shanmugam on Wednesday ordered temporary suspension of weekly shandies for cows and goats, due to the outbreak of FMD. In the last one month in Erode, 24 deaths of cows have been officially recorded and 146 heads of cattle continue to suffer from the ailment in the district.
‘Hundreds have died’
In the recent days the disease has claimed the lives of hundreds of cows across the State as it was not taken seriously by the Animal Husbandry Department”, said K.A. Sengottuvel, state president of the Tamil Nadu Milk Producers Welfare Association.
“The government is carrying out the drive once a year whereas it should be carried out twice a year – once before the South-West and the North-East monsoons”, he said.
Vaccination for FMD should be carried out on the models of pulse polio vaccination.
(With inputs from S. Ganesan, Tiruchi, R. Krishnamoorthy, Erode and M.K. Ananth, Salem)