Almost a month after the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the four gewogs of Tsento, Lango, Dopshri and Hungrel in Paro, the dzongkhag livestock office is still receiving new cases everyday.

Dzongkhag livestock officials received three new cases from Tsento gewog yesterday.

The dzongkhag livestock officer, Dr Chenga Tshering, said the first case was reported from Tsendona chiwog in Lango gewog on June 6.

The disease has affected 145 cattle belonging to 36 households in the four gewogs. So far, six adult cattle and two calves have died from the disease.

Livestock officials say calves are more susceptible to the disease as they have weak immunity.

Officials claim that the outbreak has not spread to the other six gewogs in the dzongkhag.

Dr Chenga Tshering said the outbreak has affected farmers from selling their dairy products. “Most farmers from the gewogs supply their dairy products to Thimphu everyday.”

He said that on an average, farmers from the affected gewogs supply 2,000 litres of milk a day. “Supply of dairy products from the affected gewogs to Thimphu has been put on hold since yesterday.”

He said the ban would continue for about three weeks.

Dr Chenga Tshering said that to control the disease from spreading to the other gewogs, a mass vaccination campaign has started.

Officials are vaccinating livestock that are not infected.

Meanwhile, livestock officials have advised farmers to use the dairy products for self-consumption after boiling. “There is no risk for people to consume it,” Dr Chenga Tshering said.

Officials from the Bhutan Agriculture Food and Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) and the dzongkhag livestock office are also conducting a collaborative awareness campaign.

Dr Kinley Penjore from BAFRA said they are monitoring the movement of live animals and livestock products in the dzongkhag. “We are also spraying medicine in the affected areas.”

Foot and mouth disease is a severe and highly contagious viral disease that mostly causes illness in cows, pigs, sheep, goat and other animals with divided hooves.

Tashi Tenzin