The outbreak of the contagious lumpy skin disease has become a bane for thousands of cattle herders in western and northern Rajasthan where nearly 1,200 bovines have perished to the disease which is spreading at an unrelenting speed in the region.
Animal husbandry department officials said that the infection has spread among nearly 25,000 cattle in a span of three months.
In Jodhpur district alone, 254 cattle succumbed to the disease in the past two weeks drawing the animal husbandry department's attention.
Considering the serious spread of the infection, the department has mobilised teams of doctors in the affected areas and has advised the cattle herders to keep their cattle isolated to shield them from getting infected.
BJP MLA from Raniwara (Jalore) Narayan Singh Dewal has requested the state government to step up its efforts to contain the spread of the infection.
The animal husbandry department has said that the disease which originated in Africa came to India via Pakistan in April.
"Initially, the infection was there in the border districts like Jaisalmer and Barmer but this has now spread to Jodhpur, Jalore, Nagaur, Bikaner, Hanumangarh and other districts in the region," Dr Arvind Jaitelay, Deputy Director (Disease Control), Animal Husbandry department, told PTI in Jaipur. "Our teams are already working in the affected areas." He said that the disease is mainly affecting cows, particularly the indigenous ones and close to 25,000 bovines have been affected so far.
"Infection is rapidly spreading in cows having low immunity. Because of low immunity, other diseases attack and the animal dies," he said.
He said that there is no treatment or vaccine for lump disease and treatment is given as per symptoms. The primary symptoms are pox on skin, high fever, and a runny nose.
"We have mobilised our teams of veterinarians in the affected villages. They have been camping in the villages and providing treatment to the infected cattle", said Joint Director (Animal Husbandry)- Jodhpur Sanjay Singhvi.
The disease has also had a severe economic impact.
Areas like Phalodi, Osian, Baap, and Lohawat, among others, in Jodhpur have hundreds of cattle already infected.
Singhvi said that 5-10 per cent of the total population of cattle has so far been infected by the lumpy disease in the district.
"We have reported 254 cattle mortality in the past two weeks. However, the number of recovered cattle is higher," Singhvi said.
A team of the department from Jaipur also visited Jodhpur on July 20. The team provided insight to the local team into the disease and its prevention.
MLA Narayan Singh Dewal wrote a letter to the animal husbandry minister on Friday and demanded that a special team of doctors and medicines in adequate quantity should be made available to Jalore district in view of the spread of the lumpy skin disease.
He said that more than 60 cows of one cattle rearer in his constituency succumbed to the infection, besides several others grappling with deaths of their cattle from the disease.
Alok Singhal, Secretary of Pathmeda Gaudham in Jalore, said that the condition in villages is pathetic and needs urgent attention from authorities.
"The disease is spreading very fast. Over 100 cattle have died in 50 branches of our gaushala in Jalore", he said.
Singhal said that villagers are also coming to the Gaushala with their infected cattle in serious condition.
According to him, the disease is infecting only indigenous breeds and spreading fast along them.
As it happens, the enormity of the still unfolding crisis has not been lost on the Centre.
Union minister of state for agriculture Kailash Choudhary said that a team of scientists from the Indian Agriculture Research Institute was sent to study the disease spreading in cows in western Rajasthan and for measures to prevent it.
"According to their advice, necessary steps will be taken by the central government for its treatment," he tweeted Friday.
The minister admitted that the disease has been responsible for the deaths of a large number of cows and suffering of hundreds of farmers.
Choudhary, an MP from Barmer, also urged the state government to take necessary action by showing seriousness on this, so that farmers and livestock owners can get relief.
Jodhpur and Bikaner divisions, which together constitute 10 districts in western and northern Rajasthan, have around 1,400 Gaushalas.