The movement of live animals and dairy products including meat from Nichula gewog in Dagana is strictly banned from yesterday after an outbreak of foot and mouth diseases (FMD) in cattle were reported from the gewog.

According to a notification issued by Dagana dzongdag Phintsho Choeden yesterday, the ban was to prevent further spread of the disease to other places and as per the Livestock Act.

Dzongkhag Livestock officer, Pema Wangchuk, said the first case was reported on December 22 from Chakramari in Gangtokha chiwog and Maula herd in Nichula gewog.

The notification states that the source of the outbreak is suspected to be from across the border area (Assam, India) as cross-border grazing is a common practice along the border.

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.

Pema Wangchuk said that as per the information from the gewog extension office, four cattle in Chakramari and 42 in Maula herd were affected by the FMD as of yesterday.

“After the case was reported, the officials at the gewog extension office immediately went to the site and started necessary treatments to the cattle like antibiotic treatment and foot and mouth wash,” Pema Wangchuk said.

No deaths in the cattle were reported as of now.

Pema Wangchuk said that while the infected area is away from settlement in the gewog, ring vaccination has been carried out to prevent spreading of the disease.

Ring vaccination controls an outbreak by vaccinating and monitoring a ring of individual or cattle around each infected individual or cattle. The idea is to form a buffer of immune individuals to prevent the spread of the disease.

Both Chakramari, which is near Assam in India and Maula herd is about three to four hours walk from the gewog centre.

Officials from the Dzongkhag Livestock office including the dzongkhag veterinary officer would visit the site today and take samples for further investigation. “Only after that, we would know what to do next. Meanwhile, we will continue with the treatment and preventive measures.”

This is the first case of FMD reported in the dzongkhag this year. The ban on the movement of live animals and dairy products from the gewog would continue until further notice.

Dechen Tshomo