VILLUPURAM: The Anthrax scare has once again hit Villupuram district – for the third time in three years – after at least 10 cattle reportedly died of the disease in Anaikarai Kottalam village near Kallakurichi over the past one week.
While locals blame the Animal Husbandry Department for the cattle deaths, the Animal Disease Analyzing Unit said they had completed the vaccination process for about 8,600 cattle in 19 villages surrounding Anaikarai Kottalam and the situation was under control.
According to villagers of Anaikarai Kottalam, when three milch cows died mysteriously on December 30, they had reported the incident to the department.But, before the veterinary officials started vaccination, seven more cattle fell prey to the mysterious disease.
S Kuruviah, Assistant Director of the Animal Disease Analyzing Unit, refuted the charge and said that as soon as the officials were informed of the cattle deaths, they had collected smear samples from the carcasses. According to Kuruviah, only eight cattle have died. When contacted, K Thangarasu, of the unit, said it was common for anthrax to spread in areas where domestic animals had been affected by the disease once as, unless destroyed carefully, anthrax spores were capable of living for more than three decades.
On Tuesday, as many as eight villagers who ate the meat of an anthrax-affected cow were admitted to the Mundiyambakkam Government Medical College and Hospital after they developed high fever and rashes on their bodies.
P Vasanthamani, Dean of the Medical College Hospital, said only medical reports could confirm if the villagers were affected by anthrax. It could be a simple skin allergy too, she said.
The patients admitted to the isolation ward of the hospital told Express that they had eaten the meat of the cow, unaware that it had died of anthrax.
When his cow died a week ago mysteriously, Pathianathan sought the help of these eight men to slaughter the dead cow. After slaughtering the cow, they took the meat home and ate it with their family members.
As days passed, the eight fell sick. Panic gripped the villagers when minor rashes appeared on their limbs and other body parts. When rushed to the Alathur PHC, they were referred to the medical college hospital.