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Drought exacerbates hoof and mouth outbreak among cattle

People administer injections to cattle in Kampong Thom province, where an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease has recently killed over 300 animals, earlier this week. Photo supplied
People administer injections to cattle in Kampong Thom province, where an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease has recently killed over 300 animals, earlier this week. Photo supplied

Drought exacerbates hoof and mouth outbreak among cattle

A vaccine campaign has been launched in response to an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease exacerbated by drought conditions in Kampong Thom province, officials said yesterday, as drought-relief efforts continued in Banteay Meanchey.

Chan Panhavoan, director of the veterinary office of the Kampong Thom provincial agriculture department, said yesterday the highly contagious virus had spread among the cattle and buffalo in mid-March, and was brought on by the high temperatures that have dried up lakes, rivers and ponds.

The scarcity of water sources increases contact between livestock susceptible to the disease and animals carrying the virus, leading to outbreaks.

“Cattle in four districts – Sandan, Prasat Sambor, Stoung and Kampong Svay – are faced with this disease,” he said, adding that so far 300 animals have died.

According to Panhavoan, roughly 1,641 animals in Kampong Thom have been vaccinated so far, with a target of 2,000 necessary to contain the outbreak.

Read: Scenes from a drought

Meanwhile, in Banteay Meanchey, water pumped from Battambang’s Kamping Puoy reservoir had still not arrived in the provincial capital of Sisophon. Originally expected to reach the town on Monday, the desperately needed water had reached Mongkol Borei district, just south of the city, Provincial Governor Soun Bavor said.

“The water is coming. It is in Mongkol Borei, where the villagers are pumping it into their ponds and farms,” he said.

According to Bavor, of the 40,000 families facing water shortages before the water distribution campaign began last week, nearly half have been relieved, with just over 20,000 still in need. Sixteen previously broken wells have been repaired and four more built, he added.

A view of the dried up Sisophon River near Sisophon, the capital of Banteay Meanchey, last week.
A view of the dried up Sisophon River near Sisophon, the capital of Banteay Meanchey, last week. Hong Menea

Separately, concern over the spread of waterborne diseases made more likely by drought conditions has prompted district health officials in Battambang to request water-disinfecting chloramine tablets from the Ministry of Health.

So Sok, director of Mong Russey district referral hospital, said “five or six” boxes of the water treatment product had been delivered so far.

“It is for a precaution; we are worried that our people will get infected by diseases like diarrhoea from using the dirty water,” he said.

According to Dr Khim Sam Ath, technical officer with the World Health Organization in Cambodia, his organisation and the Ministry of Health are coordinating with 20 provincial health departments to determine whether a “rapid health assessment” by the ministry is required.

Additional reporting by Kong Meta

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