FMD on rise in Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh: Its time for serious introspection

Pashu Sandesh, 28th december 2018

Despite all the efforts and claims made by the Animal Husbandry departments, Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is on the rise in areas of Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, seriously affecting the livelihood of the farmers relying on the Animal Husbandry as main source of income. 

There are reports of FMD outbreak in more than 200 animals around the areas nearing Amritsar. Around 5 animals are reported dead in the Pokhra village of Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh. FMD related deaths are reported from Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan too. Villagers of the Pokhra village are claiming the negligence of the Veterinary Department in providing them timely Medical care and Vaccination. On the contrary the spread in Rajasthan is being reported despite timely efforts of the Veterinary Department. 

Whatever may be the case the bottomline remains the ineffective control of FMD despite the tall claims of timely and effective Vaccination. Veterinarians are routinely tasked with the periodic FMD vaccination and millions of rupees being spent without the satisfactory results.

FMD is caused by a Virus, not by an insect or Helminth as wrongly reported even by some leading media of the country. FMD is an infectious and sometimes fatal viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, including domestic and wild bovids.The virus causes a high fever for between two and six days, followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet that may rupture and cause lameness.

FMD has very severe implications for animal farming, since it is highly infectious and can be spread by infected animals comparatively easily through contact with contaminated farming equipment, vehicles, clothing, feed and by domestic and wild predators.Its containment demands considerable efforts in vaccination, strict monitoring, trade restrictions, quarantines and occasionally the culling of animals.

Vaccine for the FMD just like HIV vaccine is difficult to develop as Virus continuously mutates and produce new strains. The immunity provided by the Vaccine is thus last only for month to year making it essential to repeat the vaccination cycle at regular intervals.

Currently, the World Organisation for Animal Health recognises countries to be in one of three disease states with regard to FMD: FMD present with or without vaccination, FMD-free with vaccination, and FMD-free without vaccination. Countries such as Canada and USA come under FMD free without vaccination category and their Governments work very hard to maintain this status as the Milk and meat export from these countries would be given highest value. 

India as a nation is striving hard to achieve status of FMD free nation with Vaccination and some areas are declared FMD free by OIE but outbreaks like this pose serious questions on sincerity of our efforts as well as the quality of the Vaccine being used for the FMD eradication. It's time for introspection for all the stakeholders involved and make an honest effort toward eradication of FMD from our country.