The epidemic of Mouth and Foot Disease (MFD) has turned fatal in South Kashmir's Pulwama district killing at least 70 cattle and infecting more than 4000 so far.
Farmers from various villages of Pulwama informed Rising Kashmir that epidemic of MFD, a viral infection, has been taking a heavy toll on their cattle.
"Around four cattle including a milk yielding cow and three heifers died due to the infection in our village," said Parvaiz Ahmad, a resident of Wahibugh.
He accused department of animal husbandry for spread of this infection.
"They used to vaccinate our cattle but this year they vaccinated cattle of some influential people and left our cattle without vaccination," he said, blaming village level employees of the department of selling the vaccine in the private market.
"Veterinary dispensary Wahibugh received vaccine against said infection from district headquarters, the higher officials should see where it has been used," the villagers said.
The villagers said that half cattle population has been infected.
The epidemic was reported from other villages including Looswani, Chewakalan, Chewakhurd, Gusoo and Ashmandir.
The officials of animal husbandry department informed that they reported 70 deaths among 2033 infected cattle so far.
"The total population of breed-able cows in our district is around 1.16 lakh, all of them were vaccinated," Cheif Animal Husbandry Officer Pulwama, Dr. Nazir Ahmad Malik said, adding the infection spread through inflow of catlle into the district from outside the state.
"we are a meat consuming state and we import cattle from Delhi and Rajashtan. These non-vaccinated cattle spread the infection once they enter into the state," he said, adding vaccination builds immunity but once the vaccinated cattle get exposed they catch the infection.
The officer said that the infection intensified after Eidul Adha after influx of cattle from other states.
When he was asked that cattle in some villages were left without vaccination, he refuted these allegations. "Nobody brought up this issue into my notice," he said.
Cow rearing is an important economic activity in Pulwama villagers. Mortality of breeding cows by MFD is a significant loss to many families living below the poverty line.