Budgam livestock herders in grip of foot-and-mouth disease fear

Budgam livestock herders in grip of foot-and-mouth disease fear
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Budgam: Scores of cattle have died and many others are battling with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) that broke out in several tribal villages in central Kashmir’s Budgam district in the past few days.
The outbreak has caused much apprehension among local farmers; they say they fear “the apathetic approach of veterinary officials and the district administration could plunge us into deeper crisis”.
“FMD is infectious and sometimes emerges as fatal for animals. Animals with this disease suffer from high fever and blisters in mouth and on hooves,” said a senior veterinary officer.
Sources told Kashmir Reader that dozens of cattle, including cows, bulls and sheep, had died during the last few days due to this fatal disease.
The affected farmers alleged that they kept calling the veterinary officers, but they did not pay any heed to the farmers’ requests.
There are also reports about cattle suffering from the same disease in other areas of the district.
“We people keep livestock to sustain our livelihood; the government has opened veterinary hospitals here. But there are no arrangements for animal vaccination at the facility in our area, and it is because of this that many animals continue to die as the disease spreads,” said Mehrj-ud-din, a resident of Arizal.
He added that several of his cattle have been affected and that the disease has become an epidemic. “The disease is caused due to a lack of vaccinations and can affect both large and small cattle. The lack of vaccination has badly affected these animals even though we do our best to care for their needs.”
He further said foot-and-mouth disease is common among cattle in the area. “It is one of the most serious diseases that affect cloven-hoofed animals (those with divided hoofs),” he said.
He added the disease does not kill adult cattle but is fatal for newborns. “The disease only makes them (adult animals) incapable of providing meat and milk.”
The farmers said that the disease can spread among other cattle and can cause them huge damage. “In this season, we take our cattle and animals to Tosa Maidan for grazing, but if the veterinary department does not paid any heed and does not take the situation seriously, all our cattle may die,” they added.
However, Chief Animal Husbandry Officer, Budgam, Dr. Mohammad Ashraf said, “I have no knowledge of outbreak of the disease in this particular area.”
He said that the vaccinations had been done in these particular areas in the very first phase.
“The reports regarding the death of hundreds of animals are baseless and are not the reality,” he asserted, adding “I will send a team to the areas and will see. If vaccinations are needed, they would be done without further delay.
“Whether the cattle are at the farmers’ homes or at Tosa Maidan or somewhere else, we will send mobile teams there to take care of them.”