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States on alert after eight animals die in Punjab of foot-and-mouth disease

dehradun Updated: Feb 22, 2018 22:19 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,animals die,Punjab

In the last couple of month, captive animals, including gaur, black buck, chowsingha and mouse deer in the park have died due to the infection.(HT FILE (REPRESENTATIVE PIC))

Following the death of eight animals from foot-and-mouth disease in the last two months at the Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park in Punjab’s Chhatbir, the central zoo authority has alerted states and union territories to take preventive measures.

Since January, foot-and mouth disease--a highly contagious viral disease--spread among cattle in Chhatbir and Gagar villages and the adjoining area of the park.

Captive animals at the park have been affected, said a top park official.

In the last couple of month, captive animals, including gaur, black buck, chowsingha and mouse deer in the park have died due to the infection, said M Sudhakar, director at the zoological park.

“Five mortalities were reported until January 22, three more casualties were recorded until February 15,” he said.

“We, however, took immediate measures and with the help of veterinary officials and experts from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, we have managed to contain the spread of the disease.”

The park management and Punjab forest department have roped in experts from the state animal husbandry department to vaccinate domestic animals in the surrounding villages, he said.

This is the first time the foot-and-mouth disease has been reported in the park. Earlier other diseases like leptospirosis and haemorrhagic septicaemia have been reported among captive animals in the park.

Concerned about the spread of the disease, the central zoo authority has issued a circular to states and union territories, asking them to coordinate with state animal husbandry departments for implementing of foot and mouth disease control programme.

The letter also directed the state and union territories to take up mandatory bio-security measures as recommended by the Indian Veterinary Research Institute and have been asked to provide feedback on the action taken.

People familiar with the matter, said similar cases of foot-and-mouth disease outbreak were reported from Kerala, but the spread was contained.

Himalayan states, including Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir are closely monitoring captive animals for the disease, some of them said.

“We carry out routine health check-ups of captive animals and the zoos in the state are secured so far,” said Digvijay Singh Khati, state chief wildlife warden.

The state has two zoos—the Dehradun Zoo and Pandit GB Pant High Altitude Zoo in Nainital.

The foot-and-mouth disease is prevalent in hoofed animals like cows, pigs, sheep, goats and deer.

Veterinary experts said picornavirus causes acute vesicular diseases in hoofed animals.

The disease is characterised by sore feet and incapability of animals to stand coupled with high fever, painful lesions in mouth among others.

“Particularly, in herbivores, the disease spread through grazing ground,” said Rakesh Negi, Uttarakhand- based veterinary expert.

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 22:19 IST