May 24, 2007 11:13:18 pm
Glanders can be a bad word for a state that relies on its horses and mules for transportation and farm work. For Uttarakhand, the blow came last week when its Animal Husbandry Department announced that 22 horses in Nainital had contracted the fatal bacterial disease.
As an immediate preventive measure, the government has ordered blood samples of all horses in the district to be taken for examination, as also of one per cent of horses from other parts of the state. These include horses with institutions like the police, Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, and some schools. These samples will be sent to Hissar for analysis.
“First the animal develops pus in the nostrils and the infection eventually spreads to the body leading to its death,” says Dr R.P. Bahuguna, joint director of the Animal Husbandry Department.
According to officials, the symptoms were first found in a horse that was brought from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. Unless remedial steps are taken, say the officials, the disease could spread to other animals and even to people. “There is no case of any human being suffering from the disease, but we are cautious,” says Trivendra Singh Rawat, Uttarakhand Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Minister, adding that every possible step would be taken to check the spread of the disease.
Estimates put the number of horses in the state at 25,000. A large number of horse carts are used in the terai region bordering Uttar Pradesh and the government has asked to curb the arrival of horses from neighbouring states.
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