The panic of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) seems to be here to stay for a while. According to the statistics of the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences Department (AHVSD), 31 cattle in Bangalore have died (of which 10 deaths are in Bangalore rural and 21 in Bangalore urban), while 90 cattle in rural Bangalore are affected and 316 in urban Bangalore are affected. In Karnataka state- 8212 cattle are affected, of which 857 have died, as on September 29, 2013.
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While this disease does not affect humans, they could be the carriers. As a precautionary measure, the Department also has requested people to refrain themselves from purchasing meat cut by local butchers in open slaughterhouses.
People are also requested to use milk and milk products wisely. According to the Bangalore Milk Union, because of the disease, milk procurement and production is also less. It is not as per their prediction for this season.
Interestingly, this time all the departments are blaming the weather. They opine that the sudden rise and fall in temperatures from a maximum of 23 degree Celsius to a minimum of 17 degree Celsius, coupled with upto 100 mm rainfall, has aggravated the condition. Reason: FMD is combined with Hemorrhagic Septicemia (HS- a bacterial disease) which gets aggravated in monsoons.
According to Dr C Venkatesh, joint director, Farms from AHVSD, the disease is slowly coming under control. There was a severe outbreak earlier, but now things are improving. “However, we have declared an outbreak,” he says.
The department now is not only requesting cattle owners to keep a watch on their cattle and get them vaccinated, they are also requesting people to be careful. “We have ordered to close all sandis, stop cross border animal movement, burying dead, infected animals deeply and maintaining hygienic environment,” says Venkatesh.
‘Be careful while purchasing meat’
Venkatesh points that meat of the infected diseased animal will have a foul smell and the quality will also be bad. It will also appear to have a rotten colour. These are some of the indications to identify the infected meat.
He also cautions that people should buy meat from certified shops and not open local butchers, no matter how trusted.
Dr Nagaraj Shetty from AHVSD adds that more care should be taken as the virus lives during this time of the year (monsoon coupled with bright and cool temperatures of a maximum of 23 degree Celsius and a minimum of 17 degree Celsius).
‘No problem with milk’
The Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) officials say that the milk is not contaminated and is safe for consumption. Dr Lakshman Reddy, director of animal husbandry wing in KMF says per day KMF is procuring 56 lakh litres, of which 2.5lakh litres are for Bangalore. He says the production of milk is not affected for the time being.
The Nandini milk sold by KMF and Bangalore Milk Union (BMU) is safe of consumption as it is pasteurised. However people should not buy milk which is sold in the open by the local milkmen as that could be infected with the F&MD and HS, cautions Dr. Lakshman.
However, Dr. B K Devaraj, deputy manager of BMU, says that this time of the year is also the calving season. “We expected the milk production to be high and targeted it to be 13.5 lakh litres, but presently it is 12,75,877 litres as on September 27, 2013. A cattle which used to give 20 litres of milk, nowadays is giving 8-9 litres because some of the cattle have mouth ulcers, so they are not able to eat to produce sufficient milk,” he added.
Dr. Devaraj says that Bangalore needs 30-35 lakh litres of people per day, while BMU is able to supply only nine lakh litres per day.
Disease spreads worry among people
Following the news of the outbreak, while there is not much effect on the sale of meat in the market, some people are becoming cautious.
According to Rajan Munirathinan, a resident of Johnson’s Market, mutton costs Rs 420-440 a kilogram, now with this disease the sale will reduce. “I was buying for my home from the open slaughterhouse, but now I will not do so any more, until the situation is under control,” he adds.
Abdul Khan, a meat dealer on Bannerghatta Road says that because of the news of FMD, the sale of meat is reduced a bit. “I used to sell 5-6 goat a day, now it has reduced to three. I am worried that my business might close down,” he adds.
Zoo loses more animals
Nine deaths have been reported so far (in one week) at Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP). These include three Spotted Deer, five Neelgai and one Great Indian Gaur.
Visitors are not allowed to visit the herbivorous safari, Sloth bear safari and elephants in the zoo. Despite the restrictions, the ticket rates have not been slashed.
Range Gowda, executive director of BBP says that this is only temporary and there is nothing to worry. “The situation will improve in a couple of weeks. People are not complaining about the ticket costs as they understand the problem,” he adds.
He says that elephants are made to stay in the Bannerghatta National Park, which abuts the zoo, because they do not want them to carry the virus from the zoo to the wild and vise-versa. A close watch is being kept on them as well. They will remain in the wild, until the disease is completely controlled.
Range Gowda also adds that to make the situation better, periodic meetings with health officials from Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals Sciences, Hebbal are being held. A close watch is being kept on all the herbivores and medication to all the animals is also being administered.