Disease Outbreak Taking Toll on Pursat Cattle

An outbreak of pasteurellosis has been killing cattle for several months in Pursat province’s Krakor district, an agriculture official said Sunday.

Chuon Horn, director of Krakor district’s agriculture office, said the outbreak started in September and has killed about 250 head of cattle so far, 96 percent of them buffaloes. The outbreak seems to be slowing now, and not a single human infection has been reported, he added.

“When the disease first oc­curred, there were about 10 buffaloes that died per day,” he said. “Now the disease kills two buffaloes on average per day.”

The rural district counts more than 20,000 buffaloes and more than 10,000 cows, he said.

Pas­teurellosis cases have been re­ported in the communes of Svay Sar, Chhoeu Tom, Anlong Tnort and Sna Ansa, he added.

Pasteurellosis, also known as fowl cholera in poultry, is a bacterial infection that can affect animals wild and domestic and hu­mans all over the world, according to a factsheet by France’s CNRS, the National Center for Scientific Research.

In animals, the infection usually shows up as pneumonia and can also move to the bloodstream, rapidly causing hemorrhaging and death.

Humans typically get the disease via bites and scratches from animals; the wound gets badly infected and causes acute pain. The bacteria can also be breathed in and, in some human cases, ag­gravate pre-existing respiratory problems, according to the CNRS. Few human deaths have been reported.

Chuon Horn said the Ministry of Agriculture’s stock of vaccines had been entirely dedicated to his district—enough to immunize 10,000 animals—and livestock in the communes surrounding the affected zone have already been vaccinated.

A December meeting of all district agriculture directors confirmed the outbreak was limited to Krakor district, he said.

Infected animals have been treated with antibiotics with a 60-percent success rate, he added.

“We are concerned about this problem because [pasteurellosis] can kill animals in just two days,” Chuon Horn said. “Sometimes, we cannot help in time.”

Kao Phal, director of the De­partment of Animal Health and Production at the Ministry of Agri­culture, said he was too busy to speak with a reporter Sunday. None of his deputies could be reached for comment.

Michael O’Leary, country representative of the World Health Organization, said he had not heard of the outbreak.

“I think it’s really in the animal sector. I’m not aware of any problems related to humans in Cam­bodia,” he said of the outbreak.

He added that he didn’t think pasteurellosis was extremely contagious from animals to humans but said he did not have expertise on this disease.

Son Touch, director of the Communicable Disease Control Department, and UN Food and Agriculture Organization officials could not be reached for comment Sunday.

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