More than 300 cattle died of foot and mouth disease in a number of districts in Kompong Cham province last month, disrupting farmers preparations for the next rice planting season, local officials said yesterday.
The outbreak of the deadly disease was centered in Kang Meas district’s Raka Koy commune, where 327 cattle died and a further 600 had been infected in August, commune chief Mao Saroeun said yesterday.
“More than 300 cows died from foot and mouth disease and about 600 other cows were infected by the disease,” Mr Saroeun said, adding that villagers had resorted to either selling their cows for low prices or sending healthy cows to relatives in other areas in a bid to quarantine them from the disease.
Mr Saroeun said that local farmers were extremely worried about their preparations for the next rice-planting season. “I am worried because about 85 percent of the villagers are farmers and they may not have cows to plough the soil in preparation for rice planting,” he said, adding that all seven villages in his commune had been affected.
Kang Meas district governor Hong Heang confirmed yesterday that nearly 1,000 cows in his district had been infected by the disease. “Some cows died two or three hours after they got sick,” he said.
He said that many farmers were staring at dire times ahead because of the outbreak. “Those people love their cows…. Some of the families raised the cows to sell and they lost a lot of money when their cows died, or when they sold them for a low price,” he said.
Suon Sothoeun, deputy director of the Agriculture Ministry’s animal health and production department, said yesterday that the government had received a report about the outbreak and was implementing measures to curb the disease.
Mr Sothoeun said that vaccinations had been sent to the Kompong Cham provincial agriculture department and animal health department to assist farmers in the affected areas.
“Foot and mouth disease can spread quickly but the rate of death is small,” he said, adding that outbreaks of the disease in Kompong Cham and Kandal provinces this year were not as large as previous outbreaks a decade ago.
Provincial agriculture department director Heng Bun Yi said yesterday that O’Reang-ou and Prey Chhor districts had also been affected by the foot and mouth disease outbreak, but not as badly as Kang Meas.
Mr Bun Yi said officials had been sent to the outbreak zones to help farmers vaccinate and treat their cattle. He said it was the first time that the province had been affected by the disease for several years.
Mr Bun Yi partly blamed the villagers for the spread of the disease, saying they often used “traditional medicine” to treat their sick cows. He said that the authorities had banned the transportation of cows in a bid to prevent the disease from spreading further and had educated the villagers to bury their dead cattle.