AWBI pulls up Kerala vetinary varsity for concealing cattle disease

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 10 (IANS) Acting on a complaint from a whistle-blower about the plan of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) to transport and kill 84 cattle which tested positive for deadly brucellosis disease two years ago, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) asked varsity not to move or kill the infected animals without anaesthesia.

The cattle which were at the KVASU’s Thiruvazhamkunnu cattle farm in Palakkad were to be moved to its campus in Mannuthy in Thrissur to be put down, said an AWBI press release.

Transporting and killing them without preceding anaesthesia, would be in apparent violation of The Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals (PCICDA) Act, 2009 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, said the AWBI, an advisory body established under PCA Act.

“It is unacceptable for a scientific institution like Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University to ignore disease in animals and risk public health,” said M. Jayachandran, Member, Kerala State Animal Welfare Board.

“The university is expected to teach students care and compassion, the scientific ways of improving the welfare of animals and how to address public health concerns of using animals as food,” he added.

AWBI, in its advisory, further stated that brucellosis, also called Malta Fever is a notifiable disease as per Section 4 of PCICDA and failure of the university to report the incidence for the last two years, and the failure of the Kerala government in notifying the disease and declaring the affected area to prevent, control and eradicate the disease, as per Section 6 of the Act, risks the health of workers including veterinarians at the farm and the general public, including if they consume the unpasteurised milk and its products derived from these infected animals.

Out of concerns for public health, AWBI also advised the university to officially report the disease immediately and urged that the state government must notify the disease and declare the affected area.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), brucellosis is transmitted to humans from animals through direct contact with infected materials like afterbirth or indirectly by ingestion of animal products and by inhalation of airborne agents.

Consumption of raw milk and cheese made from raw milk is the major source of infection in humans. The disease is considered to be an occupational hazard for people who work in the livestock sector, such as those in the Thiruvazhamkunnu cattle farm.

The disease in humans cause intermittent fever, muscle pain, backache, headache, fatigue, enlarged lymph glands, constipation, weight loss, depression, sexual impotence and abscesses in the ovaries, kidneys and brain.

As per WHO, the most rational approach for preventing human brucellosis is the control and elimination of the infection in animals as soon as it is detected.

–IANS

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