COIMBATORE: A day after a cow elephant was found dead near Anaikatti due to anthrax, the Animal Husbandry Department has started efforts to vaccinate livestock against the infectious disease in the surrounding areas starting Wednesday.
Following a request from the Coimbatore Forest Division, the department has formed three teams of livestock inspectors, led by Anaikatti, Madathur, and Thudiyalur veterinarians, to visit farms and houses in Sembukkarai and Mangarai and vaccinate the animals. The inoculation drive is being taken up as a precautionary measure although no case of anthrax has been reported among livestock in the recent past.
R Perumalsamy, Regional Joint Director of Animal Husbandry, told The New Indian Express that 500 vaccines were earmarked for vaccination, even though there were only a total of 250 head of livestock, including cows, sheep, and goats, living within an 8-km radius from Anaikatti. "Our team members have also found that the infection zone would likely be limited to 3 km, which falls within forest areas. So, it is unlikely the disease will spread to livestock."
The joint director further said that if the infection had spread to the elephant through water or grass, there could be more cases of anthrax. He recalled that a cow in Alandurai had died of the disease in 2016. The elephant, aged 10 to 15 years, that died of anthrax was the first case of the disease in 4.5 years in the region.
District Forest Officer D Venkatesh said that the Kerala Forest Department officials had also been alerted as elephants are migratory animals. "They said that no wild elephants had been infected by anthrax in the State in the past year."
"As a precautionary measure, the frontline staff has been sanitising areas within a few kilometres around the spot where the elephant's carcass was found," the DFO said.
He reiterated that the department was closely monitoring whether any elephant had fallen sick near Anaikatti, which is located near the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. The carcass was burnt as per the Union Environment Ministry's standard operating procedure.