Siliguri, Feb 6 : Atleast 13 cows have died of anthrax in West Bengal's Siliguri District even as the state administration battles bird flu. The Animal Resource Development (ARD) laboratory in Cooch Behar district confirmed the presence of anthrax bacteria in blood samples taken from seven of the 13 cattle that had died in Bhojanerechhara village.
The Siliguri district administration undertook an intensive vaccination drive in adjoining villages. Officials are taking care to bury the dead cattle in pits eight feet deep to prevent the spread of the infectious disease. Villagers said the dead cows stopped giving milk, suffered from fever and died after bleeding from the mouth, all symptoms of anthrax bacillus infection.
"My cow was suffering from loose motion and fever. It will be difficult to survive if something happens to my cow," said Atul Roy, a resident of Bhojanerechhara.
In nearby Jotpathi village, seven cows had died. In June last year, two persons died of anthrax in Murshidabad district after being admitted to the infectious diseases hospital in Kolkata. Anthrax, mainly a disease of farm animals, is spread by spores, which can survive for years in soil. Fatality rate without quick antibiotic treatment after inhaling the spores is as high as 80 per cent.
Humans can contract the disease either due to consumption of undercooked meat of an infected animal, or through occupational exposure to such animals.