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Foot-and-mouth hits four provinces

FOOT-and-mouth disease is currently affecting cattle in four provinces following outbreaks earlier this month, agriculture officials said yesterday.

Hah Piseth, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Animal Health, said the disease was affecting cows in Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Kandal and Prey Veng provinces. He estimated that the number of cases was roughly the same as last year.

“The ministry has provided medicine to the [provincial] agriculture departments and now the situation has been improving because we have been able to save [some cows] in time,” he said.

Around 50 cows in Kampong Cham died from the disease at the beginning of the month, and around 1,000 others were affected with foot-and-mouth and other diseases, said Mao Bunthoeun, deputy chief of Peam Prothnuos commune, located in Koh Sotin district.

“Two cows that died on Sunday were sent downstream.... We are afraid that this will cause disease to people using the river water,” he said.

Hun Ly, deputy director of the Kampong Chhnang provincial animal health office, said he had ordered his staff to educate villagers about how to treat diseased cattle.

“This virus cannot survive in acid, so we recommend that villagers use sour sauces from lemon or tamarind to clean the mouth and nails of the cows twice a day,” he said. “This will cure the disease.”

But Mao Bunthoeun said farmers would be hampered by the outbreak, warning that it could affect animals needed for the upcoming rice harvest, expected in November.

“Cows that have been cured cannot work for two months, even though farmers will need them,” he said.

Som Sarin, 27, a villager from Rolea Pheaer district in Kampong Chhnang, said that the cost of treating diseased cows was too high, and complained that the animals could only be sold for half their normal value.

“Some villagers have called veterinarians, which costs them 15,000 riels (US$3.55) for each visit, but other people have been going to the forest to search for traditional medicine for their cows,” she said.

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