Anthrax scare at zoo: Sharp fall in visitor numbers,vaccine flown in

Four days after a young one-horn male rhinoceros died at the Delhi Zoo,sparking suspicions of an anthrax infection,the zoo authorities on Thursday procured vaccines against the disease as a precautionary measure.

Written by Nandini Thilak | New Delhi | Published:May 4, 2012 12:06 am

Four days after a young one-horn male rhinoceros died at the Delhi Zoo,sparking suspicions of an anthrax infection,the zoo authorities on Thursday procured vaccines against the disease as a precautionary measure. The test report on blood samples of the dead rhino is awaited.

One thousand doses of the vaccine,meant for herbivores at the zoo,were flown in from Chennai on Thursday as a precautionary measure,said R A Khan,Curator of the National Zoological Park.

“The vaccine will be administered to animals in the unlikely case that the test results of the dead rhino confirm anthrax as the cause of death,” he said.

The rhino enclosure of the zoo remained closed to visitors for the third day on Thursday as sanitary workers sprayed disinfectants to ward off bacterial infection.

A team from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases visited the zoo again to interview workers who have had contact with the dead animal.

Meanwhile,the number of visitors to the zoo has taken a hit since the anthrax scare,officials said. While an average of 5,000 visitors visit the zoo on a weekday,Wednesday saw numbers come down to 3,000,Khan said.

The suspected case of anthrax death occurred on April 28 when Junior Raja,a male rhinoceros who was three years old,died suddenly. Doctors who inspected the carcass had ordered tests to ascertain if the cause of death was anthrax.

Officials at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Izzatnagar,Bareilly,which is conducting the test,said results will take at least three more days.

“Our wildlife division will take another three days to arrive at a diagnosis,” said Dr S V S Malik,Principal Scientist,Veterinary Public Health Division at the IVRI.

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