Wildlife vaccination drive in West Bengal to prevent anthrax outbreak

June 2nd, 2008 - 4:02 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, June 2 (IANS) Amid fears of anthrax spreading in West Bengal, the state forest department Monday said a vaccination drive had begun and wildlife was being closely monitored to prevent an outbreak of the disease. Anthrax is a bacterial disease that mostly affects animals and spreads to humans through consumption of contaminated meat.

“We are carrying out continuous screening of all elephants in north Bengal. This apart, we are keeping an eye on the local cattle and other wild animals, creating a safety belt in the forests,” West Bengal Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) S.S. Bist told IANS.

Around 7,000 anthrax vaccines have already reached the Jaldapara Wild Life Sanctuary, where a vaccination programme began last week.

“We are maintaining hygiene and sanitation in the forest belts including Buxa, Gorumara, Jaldapara and Chapramari in the north. We are also monitoring the livestock, with the help of West Bengal Animal Resource Development (ARD) department to prevent any infection in the forests,” he said.

“After the death of an elephant in Noam range of Kalimpong division, initially there was a scare that the animal died of anthrax. Even some local laboratory reports hinted at such a possibility. Later, the samples were tested in the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL) in Kolkata and the report confirmed that it was not because of anthrax infection,” Bist said.

He added that some other animals had also died of unknown reasons in forests in the northern region of the state but no anthrax infection had been confirmed by laboratory tests.

According to sources, the carcasses of three adult bisons - one at Nagrakata forest area in Jalpaiguri district and two in Jaldapara - were found last month and the cause of their death is not yet known.

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