FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE OUTBREAK : ‘Substandard vaccination causing bovine deaths in Kashmir’

Lackadaisical approach of the animal husbandry department in administering vaccination among bovines has triggered outbreak of the deadly foot and mouth disease in cattle across Kashmir leading.
FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE OUTBREAK : ‘Substandard vaccination causing bovine deaths in Kashmir’
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Lackadaisical approach of the animal husbandry department in administering vaccination among bovines has triggered outbreak of the deadly foot and mouth disease in cattle across Kashmir leading. 

Sources informed Greater Kashmir that procurement of substandard bovine vaccination is also responsible for the disease outbreak causing animal deaths in various parts of Valley during last two months.  

Several aggrieved dairy farmers from various parts of the Valley told Greater Kashmir that delay of almost two months in administering vaccine among bovines lead to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.  

"Instead of February the vaccination was administered in our cattle in April. There has been complete lack of awareness from the department with regard to the foot and mouth disease. They have hardly conducted any camps," said Muhammad Shafi, a dairy farmer from Sumbal in North Kashmir. 

Sources say vaccination to prevent foot and mouth disease has not been properly evaluated and also not purchased from an "approved source" by the animal husbandry department. "The vaccine was procured haphazardly and it needs to be found out by the animal husbandry department if at all testing was done. Now the department has send vaccine samples outside which is too little too late," said an expert. "There have been absolutely no operational measures, which has lead to outbreak of the FMD that has hit dairy industry," he added.  

When contacted, commissioner secretary, animal husbandry department, Raj Kumar Bhagat promised a probe into the allegations.

"A purchase committee headed by director finance animal husbandry leads the vaccination procurement. Internally, we are already looking out whether there were any flaws in procurement and sampling of vaccines but now we will try and ascertain the loopholes immediately. The vaccine samples have been given to a testing laboratory outside and we are awaiting the results," said Bhagat. Bhagat said all efforts were being made to make the vaccination process transparent and ensure that steps were being taken to address the disease outbreak.  

Explaining the FMD, an animal scientist said it adversely affects dairy cows with high fever especially neonatal calves and increases chances of their mortality.  

"Animals which are infected with this disease and somehow survive witness a sharp reduction in milk producing capacity by almost half. FMD is a highly contagious disease and can reach out till 24 kilometers in its radius by direct contact. This disease is endemic to Asia and in Kashmir lack of awareness, special progammes to ensure that healthy stock is not affected is lacking," he said.

Elaborating measures taken by animal husbandry department to control FMD outbreak, commissioner secretary Raj Kumar Bhagat said paucity of funds from the central government has been a hurdle in providing 100 percent vaccination in bovines.

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