Estimates of the number of cattle that have died in a foot and mouth disease outbreak in Kompong Cham’s Kang Meas district have been revised upward to nearly 500 animals, according to a district official.
Kang Meas district governor Hong Heang said yesterday, after speaking to the chiefs of Raka Koy, Prek Krabao and Angkor Ban communes, that he found out 483 cows had died of foot and mouth since the disease took hold in his district last month and that more than 2,000 more had been infected.
Mr Heang said provincial authorities had banned villagers from eating or selling cattle from the affected area in a bid to prevent the disease from spreading further.
“The outbreak of the disease occurred in the three communes and it killed 483 cows,” he said, adding that Raka Koy commune was the worst hit, with 327 deaths.
Mr Heang said that the situation had improved since provincial animal health department officials helped farmers vaccinate their cattle last month, but that had not stopped superstitious villagers from using other means to try and ward off the disease.
“Last weekend, the villagers set up campfires [outside their homes] and knocked clappers at night, using their superstitious beliefs to take away the disease,” he said.
Despite the ban on the selling and transportation of cattle, Raka Koy commune chief Mao Sarouen said yesterday that villagers were continuing to sell their healthy animals at bargain prices because they were fearful they would contract the disease and die.
“They are selling at least 10 cows a day, but it is at a low price,” he said, adding that no cattle had died over the past four days in his commune.
Provincial agriculture department director Heng Bun Yi said he was worried that the trade of cattle from the affected areas would help the disease spread further, adding that another outbreak of the disease had recently been reported in Choeung Prey district.
“The foot and mouth disease outbreak this year has been very strange…. It spread out very quickly,” he said, adding it was the worst outbreak in several years.