BENGALURU: In a grim reminder of pollution caused by non-degradable material, a veterinary doctor in Kadur taluk of Chikkamagaluru district removed 21 kg of plastic from a cow’s stomach on Thursday. The cow had accumulated plastic in its rumen (first stomach of a ruminant) over a period of time. Mammals that chew the cud regurgitated from the rumen are known as Ruminants.
The animal, aged between 3 and 4 years, began to suffer bloating, weakness and lack of nutrition as its digesting capacity went down. In a 4-hour surgery, all the plastic was removed at the government veterinary hospital
“When a cow eats plastic, it can neither regurgitate it, nor pass it on to the next chamber of the digestive system. It gets tangled lifelong. The temperature in the rumen increases and the plastic melts inside, leaving no space for other food to digest. Therefore, the blood does not get the nutrients it needs,” explained Dr B E Arun, Chief Veterinary Officer, Government Veterinary Hospital, Kadur.
During the surgery, the cow was kept in standing position and was administered local anesthesia. The animal is fine now and will be followed up with antibiotics and painkillers for the next five days, the doctor said. Dr Arun has treated 10-15 such cases in the past year in Kadur itself.In order to prevent it, people must not dispose food inside plastic covers and must reduce use of plastic overall, he urged.
“Degradable covers are fine... but if there is food inside plastic, the animals can smell it and hence, they try to eat it. This issue affects wild animals too. It is a slow poison. In monogastric animals, that is, mammals with single compartment stomachs such as humans, dogs, cats and horses, death will be instant,” Dr Arun added.
In 2020, veterinary doctors in Kadur removed 30 kg plastic and iron pieces from the stomach of a pregnant cow, an indication of how rampant the problem is.