The outbreak of highly contagious -foot and mouth disease (FMD) — among cattle in Patiala has not deterred the state government from organising the national livestock championship, which begins Thursday (December 1-5) at Jahlan village.
Sources in the state animal husbandry department said the FMD, which started in Patiala in September, has even spread to villages in nearby Fatehgarh Sahib and Khanna but still the government is adamant on hosting the five-day National Livestock Championship and Agri Expo-2017 in Patiala where farmers from across the country will bring their cattle, goats, pigs, sheep and other animals.
An airborne disease that is highly contagious, FMD spreads through a virus and affects cloven-footed animals (cows, buffaloes, pigs, goats etc) and badly hits milk production. It can even lead to death as animals stop consuming food due to blisters in mouth.
Dr Prakash Singh Brar, dean, college of veterinary sciences, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), said, “It attacks the immunity system of animals and leads to severe decline in milk production. Fatality rate in adult animals is still less due to FMD but it proves fatal for younger animals.” He added that depending on air velocity and humidity, virus can travel far and wide. It also spreads through direct contact with affected animals.
FMD cases have already been reported from Bhadson, Rakhra, Pahlian Kalan and Pahlian Khurd villages of Patiala. Jahlan village, where the expo will be held from December 1-5, is a few kilometres from Rakhra. “It has also spread to some farms in Khanna and Fatehgarh Sahib. Instead of taking steps to control it, government is trying to hide it. They are not even admitting that there is a breakout. Instead, they are organising a national expo in the district from where it has started. Since it is an air-borne disease, it can spread in any direction and at least 30-40 km radius is always risky,” said a farmer from Patiala.
Sources added that even CM’s own animal farm at Moti Mahal in Patiala continues to be under check since two months for FMD. “They have their own veterinary specialist who is keeping a constant eye on animals for symptoms,” said a veterinary department official.
Farmers in Jagraon of Ludhiana, which will also host one of the biggest cattle expo being organised by Progressive Dairy Farmers Association (PDFA) from December 9 to 11, are now worried. “Our fair is scheduled next and certainly animals participating in Patiala fair will come here also. Thus, we are circulating messages on social media that only vaccinated animals should be brought to Jagraon,” said a farmer. Dr Gurdeep Singh, deputy director, animal husbandry Patiala (training), when asked about FMD breakout in Patiala said, “We will not be allowing those animals to participate in the expo whose owners won’t produce vaccination certificates.All precautions are being taken.”
Dr Amarjeet Singh, director, animal husbandry (Punjab), meanwhile, claimed, “Some FMD cases were reported in September but situation is under control now. With the dip in temperature, virus also starts retracting. The animals which showed FMD symptoms were not vaccinated. Infected animals will not be allowed to participate.” Asked why the venue was not shifted to some other district despite breakout in September, he said, “It is a decision taken at higher levels. I cannot comment on it.”
A veterinary officer added, “After getting FMD, the virus remains active in an animal for at least six months. It is not safe to transport that animal or bring other animals in that area for at least six months. It has not even been three months since cases were reported in villages of Patiala.”