UMERKOT, Sept 23: More than 35 buffaloes died of a contagious disease within 10 hours in five villages near here on Sunday and over 200 more contracted the disease, according to Thar villagers.
Given the large number of mortality in just five villages the toll from the disease in the desert may be staggeringly high.
A cattle breeder Moula Bux of Hoondo Arisar village near Pithoro town said the disease took barely three days to cause an animal to die. “Just a day before, I saw 20 of my 150 buffaloes getting dull and sick with fever. And today, within hours their throats swelled, they suffered breathing problem and died,” he said, adding the villagers called it ‘Ghoghri’ disease in local parlance.
When asked how the villagers would treat the sick animals, he said that they would tie a Taveez (amulet) round the animal’s neck and sprinkle on it holy water prescribed by faith-healers.
He said that he did not know about any government department responsible for providing treatment to and vaccinating their ailing cattle. Four buffaloes and two calves had died of the disease, causing him a loss of about Rs1 million, he said.
He said that he knew of people who had suffered a similar loss in nearby villages of Abdul Wahid, Anwar Sand, Saleh Sand, Ghulam Rasool Arisar, Din Mohammad, where over 35 buffaloes had died and more than 200 had contracted the disease.
Noor Ahmed Soomro, disease investigation officer of the Directorate of Animal Husbandry, Hyderabad, said that it was Hemorrhagic septicemia caused by Pasteurella multocida bacteria which inflicted buffaloes during rainy or harvesting season.
It started with high fever of 104 to 107 degree, making the animal lazy and restless. As the condition worsened the buffalo had respiratory distress and excessive accumulation of fluid from mouth and nose called profuse salivation, he said.
He claimed the department released disease forecast report through newspapers, television channels and radio after every three months but cattle breeder (most of whom are illiterate) did not pay attention to it.
He said the cattle contracting the disease could be saved if it was given sulpha demadine injection during the early stages of the disease. He advised cattle breeders to immediately quarantine the sick animals and vaccinate the herd before it was too late because it was a highly contagious disease.
The deputy director of livestock department, Abdul Ghani Bajeer, said that no farmer had complained to the department about the outbreak of the disease, still he had sent teams to the affected villages.