Assam: Wild elephant wreaks havoc in Tezpur
Representational Image Credit: Representational image

Guwahati: Fearing an outbreak of the anthrax disease at Assam’s Dehing Patkai wildlife sanctuary, the forest department has initiated an immediate vaccination drive after autopsy on two dead elephants confirmed the disease early this week.

Starting Thursday, the department is on a mission to re-vaccinate all livestock and cattle in villages within a 5-km radius of the Namsang area in Soraipung range of the Joypur Reserved Forest in Dibrugarh district.

The decision was taken after carcasses of an elephant calf and a female elephant in the Namsang area were found to be infected with anthrax disease. According to standard poerating procedures, the forest officials had burnt both the carcasses after conducting autopsy on them.

The forest department has also prohibited fishing in the reserved forest as a precautionary measure.

Anthrax is a highly infectious zoonotic disease found primarily in herbivorous animals. It is caused by Bacillus anthracis, a rod-shaped spore-forming bacteria and can spread from animal to animal through contaminated soil and feed.

Villagers in the nearby villages are now worried that their livestock may be infected by the deadly disease.

“We are going from village to village in the Namsang area to find out if there were similar, unrecorded deaths in the past. We are also conducting awareness programmes to sensitize villagers about the disease and how to prevent its outbreak,” said a forest official.

According to officials, an outbreak of the disease was reported among elephants in Upper Assam in the 1940s. Recently, in 2019, two buffaloes had reportedly died of the disease at the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary near Guwahati.

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