Nepal | July 10, 2020

Anthrax bacteria in Koshi Tappu threatens protected species

Santosh Kafle
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Sunsari, August 12

Anthrax spores have been detected in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, a sanctuary to a huge population of protected species of wild buffaloes, raising alarm among conservationists.

The finding came following the test of blood samples collected from dead cattle found in the reserve.  Some 44 cattle were found dead in the grassland here on Thursday.

Dr Sanjaya Kumar Yadav of Livestock Disease Research Laboratory, Biratnagar, confirmed the bacteria in the dead animals.

“Anthrax is a genetic disease and can spread from cattle to cattle and even to humans. As the disease can kill the patient if timely treatment is not provided, we must be cautious,” said Dr Yadav.

Anthrax bacteria can live up to 20 years in the soil, according to veterinary doctors, and the entire wildlife in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, including wild buffaloes, are under threat from the bacteria. According to them, cattle which eat grass by reaching up to the roots close to the soil are at the highest risk of contracting the bacteria.

According to Dr Manoj Kumar Mahato of Veterinary Hospital and Livestock Expert Centre, Inaruwa, his office is all set to launch a campaign to stop the bacteria from spreading further. “The bacteria can easily spread from one place to another through wind, soil or water. To stop the disease from spreading further, it is necessary to inoculate all the livestock found in the wildlife reserve,” he said.

“The bacterium, when it comes into contact with air and water, transforms into a capsule and then enters an animal’s body. Once infected, initially the animal will exhibit high fever and later can even lose life due to heart attack,” he said.

Mahato added that hardly any symptoms are seen before the infected cattle dies from bleeding from all orifices.

According to experts, people in the vicinity of the reserve who come to the reserve to graze their cattle are also at risk. Anyone who touches the carcass of an infected animal and gets near the area can contract the bacteria through any medium, such as air, water or through any wound in their body.

In case of a person infected with the bacteria, s/he has to take medication for six months.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve chief conservation officer Ramdev Chaudhary said the reserve would do all it takes to control the disease.

A version of this article appears in print on August 13, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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