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Anthrax Becomes Jumbo Worry in Odisha

Two elephant deaths in last couple of weeks in Mayurbhanj district raises hackles of Wildlife Wing.

Published: 15th December 2015 05:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th December 2015 06:19 AM   |  A+A-

BHUBANESWAR: If poaching, electrocution and mishaps were not bad enough, elephants in Odisha now have to battle the deadly anthrax. Two deaths in the last couple of weeks in Mayurbhanj has raised the hackles of the Wildlife Wing.

It has now requested the Director of Veterinary Service and Animal Husbandry to keep the periphery of the Similipal Tiger Reserve sanitised.

While the first instance of death in Karanjia was confirmed to have been caused by anthrax, on Sunday, another elephant carcass - with no injury - was found near Ambapani canal under Dukura Range. The Baridapa Forest Division has sent samples to Animal Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) at Phulanakhara for investigation though prima facie it appears to be a case of anthrax.

What’s worrying is that Dukura Range had reported an anthrax death last year which indicates that disinfection process by Veterinary officials has not been foolproof. “Animals can contract anthrax bacteria as the spores manage to survive in the soil even after burial of an infected carcass. The Bacillus anthracis does not get destroyed easily which is why a stringent protocol for disinfection must be adopted,” sources in the Animal Resources Development (ARD) Department said.

Since exposure to the spores or to dead infected animals can lead to transmission of anthrax, use of sodium hydroxide is being prescribed during disinfection process these days. The carcass is buried four to five feet under the ground and several layers of soil are added to prevent the spores from reaching the surface.

“It is deadly and highly infectious and animals coming in contact can be transmitted easily. That Dukura has reported it twice, the reasons must be investigated thoroughly by the ARD Department,” a senior officer of Wildlife Wing said.

Experts also point out that elephants being long ranging animals, some of them might have picked up the infection during their migratory process. Besides, flood water can carry the bacteria from one place to another which calls for stronger surveillance by the Veterinary authorities.

Anthrax infection in other wildlife has been reported in different parts of the country but its resurfacing among elephants in Mayurbhanj where Similipal Tiger Reserve is located is a matter of concern.

Wildlife Wing officials admitted that the anthrax deaths are alarming and Directorate of Veterinary Services has been requested to continue vaccination of domestic animals in the peripheral villages of STR. Director, Veterinary Service Debi Prasad Panda, however, did not respond to the calls.

Big Scare

  • Wildlife Wing requests Director of Veterinary Service and Animal Husbandry to keep the periphery of STR sanitised
  • The first instance of death in Karanjia was confirmed to have been caused by anthrax
  • On Sunday, another elephant carcass - with no injury - was found near Ambapani canal under Dukura Range
  • Dukura Range reported an anthrax death last year which indicates that disinfection process by Veterinary officials is not foolproof


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