Farmers in several upazilas of Lalmonirhat were put in an unpleasant situation as they struggled to vaccinate their cattle against a potentially fatal viral disease that broke out in the district recently.
The livestock department apparently has no vaccines for the disease – Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) – despite it being a common one for cloven-hoofed animals like cows and bullocks.
Sources said the disease broke out in many villages with the start of winter, prompting farmers and cattle growers to search for vaccination but their effort was mostly met with failure.
Many farmers have resorted to Ayurvedic treatment for their cattle that had already contracted the virus.
Some farmers alleged that they had returned empty-handed from the local livestock department as vaccines were not available there.
Usually, local markets do not sell the vaccines since those are supplied and sold only by the government agencies.
The farmers are worried that the affected cattle might not survive another week if they are not vaccinated now.
Azizul Islam, a farmer at Sakoya village, said, “Two of my cows had contracted FMD and I have been giving them Ayurvedic medicines for the past one week because there are no vaccines.”
Another farmer, Atahar Hossain of Goddimari village, said three of his cows had been attacked by the virus in the last four days but he couldn’t provide them any treatment. “I went to the upazila livestock office but they have no vaccines in their store.”
According to an account, there are 358,034 cows and bullocks in the district. Among common cattle diseases, Tarka and Badla are wintertime diseases while FMD is found almost round the year.
While contacted, District Livestock Officer Dr Abu Hossain Sarker acknowledged the scarcity of vaccines. “We cannot provide vaccines simply because we have none to give. We had informed the higher authorities of the situation about two weeks back but transportation of the vaccines was halted by the countrywide communication blockade.”
“Vaccines are regularly given to cattle to immunise them against FMD, but they can re-contract it coming in contact with the FMD-affected Indian cattle smuggled into Bangladesh without any health-check.”