There’s alarm over the outbreak of Brucellosis disease in Kolar district

KOLAR: There’s alarm over the outbreak of Brucellosis disease in Kolar district following the detection of Brucella abortus bacterium in 998 cattle, [Brucella is a genus of Gram-negative bacteria, named after David Bruce. They are small, non encapsulated, flagellated, facultatively intracellular coccobacilli. Refer: wiki ] including 258 cows.

Also known as ‘bangs disease’ and `contagious abortion’, Brucellosis spreads from the vaginal discharge of an infected cow or from an aborted foetus. It’s said to have no treatment and the disease poses a major risk as milk consumed from the infected cows can cause undulant fever among humans.

Animal husbandry department’s deputy director (Kolar) S Channakeshava told TOI: “We have been screening the animals for Brucellosis for the past one year and 258 cows tested positive. We have ordered culling of these cows and directed farm owners to bury the carcasses deep in the soil to prevent contamination.” Symptoms of Brucellosis have been reportedly found in animals at Rakshith Farm owned by Kolar MLA Varthur R Prakash. However, the MLA said all 900-plus animals on his farm are healthy and there was no question of any animal being affected with Brucellosis disease. [Refer: microbewiki]

The farm, which commenced operations a year ago at Begli village on the outskirts of Kolar (about 70km from Bengaluru), has over 2,500 cross-bred cows brought from Maharashtra by Prakash.Though animal husbandry staff detected Brucellosis several months ago, they reportedly did not raise a red flag and the issue was kept under wraps for “observation and scientific analysis”. In the meantime, according to sources in the animal husbandry department, some cows were either sold to farmers in the region or sent to slaughter houses.

The issue snowballed into a controversy after some political activists alleged that nearly 7,000 litres of infected milk were supplied to the local milk producers’ cooperative society from Rakshith Farm.They also alleged that Prakash was trying to sell the infected cows to farmers. The activists met district in-charge minister K R Ramesh Kumar and briefed him about the issue. This was reportedly communicated to animal husbandry minister A Manju, who ordered his department officials to rush to Prakash’s farm and draw blood samples from the cattle.

Dr T Jayaram, senior deputy director of the department, said Brucellosis disease is a zoonotic disease [A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be spread between animals and humans. Zoonotic diseases can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. These diseases are very common. Scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals. Refer: cdc], is animal borne and can be easily transmitted to humans who come in close contact with affected animals.

The affected animal would develop various disorders which results in abortion twice in a row and after two abortions though the animal looks good, it would have traces of the bacteria and spread it to other animals.Any human who comes in close contact with the animal will develop various health disorders, including high fever, joint pain and impotency.

Channakeshava said department personnel were busy collecting samples from the animals. “Drawing blood samples is under way and would continue on Monday. The test reports will be made available on Tuesday and, following this, a decision to cull the animals will be taken.”

Kolar MLA Varthur R Prakash said his is a model farm and the animals are treated with meticulous care and in hygienic surroundings and any animal being affected with disease is a remote possibility. He said some vested interests are trying to tarnish his image by spreading false rumours about the health of his animals. He added that all animals are being checked on a periodic basis and steps are being taken to shift the affected animals, if any, from the farm.