An epidemic has killed about 100 buffalo and other cattle in Phong Tho District in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau since September.
A farmer feeds his buffalo in Than Uyen District in the northern moutainous province of Lai Chau. Nearly 100 buffaloes and other cattle died when an epidemic broke out three months ago. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Viet
AI CHAU —
The disease, caused by the Pasteurella multocida bacteria, spreads quickly and often breaks out when the weather changes suddenly, and at times when farmers are harvesting their crops and working the buffalo heavily, said Lai Chau Animal Health Department director Dang Xuan Hao.
Cattle in Pa Vay Su commune have been most heavily hit, with 50 out of 800 livestock in the commune felled, in an area in which the buffalo is viewed as the most valuable property belonging to the local Thai, Mong and Dao ethnic minorities.
"All of the dead buffalo and cows had symptoms of a swelling neck and died after two or three hours," said the chairman of the commune's People's Committee, Mua A Sinh.
Sung Sua Pao, who lost five buffalo to the disease, said that he put buffalo into pens right after being told of the epidemic, but they still died one after the other.
"My family does not know how to plough the next crop without buffalo," he said.
Farmer Thao A Du also found his two buffalo with symptoms of swollen necks. His livestock survived after he lit fires to keep them warm and bound their necks with traditional medicines.
"Last winter, the death toll was only half of this year's amount," said Hao.
Many of the buffalo died in communes over 10km from district centres, so veterinary workers were unable to give timely treatment.
Hao said that his department had founded a mobile team to supervise cattle in the district and hold talks with farmers about the source of the disease and the ways to prevent it, including vaccinations every six months.
Starting this month, the department has issued Robert 1 vaccines made by the National Animal Medicine Co No 2 and sterilised the affected areas.
"We advise farmers not to let their buffalo wander, keep them in pens and keep a close watch on them especially in times of changing weather," Hao said. "We have also asked them to bury the death buffalo carefully to prevent the disease from spreading."
Phong Tho District People's Committee chairman Lo Van Giang said that the district did not have any plans to give financial support to farmers that have lost cattle.
"We will work with the provincial People's Committee about a plan and ask for help from them," Giang said. — VNS