The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the district has claimed 114 head of cattle, District Animal Husbandry Officer Tom K. Mathew has said on Monday. Of the 114, 98 are cows and the rest calves. The disease broke out in the western parts of the district three weeks ago and is now quickly spreading to the remaining areas.
The epidemic has dealt a serious blow to the prospects of dairy farming in the district. Mr. Mathew said 1,994 head of cattle were so far affected. The cattle in nearly 30 panchayats, mainly in the three blocks of Ettumanoor, Kaduthuruthy and Vaikom, are under threat.
Kurian Joseph, deputy director, Dairy Development Department, said the severity of the outbreak had already hit milk production in the district. While the overall impact on milk production was low, the fall in productivity in the severely-affected panchayats could be as high as 50 per cent, he said. “The average milk production in the district has been put at 70,000 litres a day. We are experiencing a fall in 2,600 litres per day now, which could be directly attributed to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease,” he said. However, this slump in production is confined to the seven affected panchayats. Not only cows but, pigs, buffaloes and goats have been affected. An elephant in Vechoor, one of the worst affected areas, has shown symptoms of foot-and-mouth disease. Confirmation on whether the elephant has contracted the disease is awaited, according to Animal Husbandry Department authorities.