KARACHI, Sept 14: Samples taken from the recently imported Australian sheep were found to have highly contagious bacteria, according to a test report prepared by Sindh Poultry Vaccine Centre of the provincial livestock department.
According to the report issued on Friday, samples from the Australian Merino sheep tested for 100 per cent bacterial presence of salmonella and actinomyces.
They also tested positive for 44 per cent E. Coli.
More than 21,000 Australian sheep were recently off-loaded at the port with the approval of the Port Qasim Authority.
The government quarantine department allowed the provisional release of the consignment without carrying out proper tests on the animals and keeping them in quarantine. Parts of the same consignment, of about 35,000 sheep, were also delivered to Qatar and Oman.
However, the authorities in Bahrain rejected the shipment from Wellard Rural Exports on account of the animals’ sickness.
According to media reports, the consignment was brought to Karachi instead of being taken back to Australia.
The consignment was bought by a private company, PK Livestock Meat Company, and the sheep are being kept at PK Farms Razzakabad, in Malir, with other animals meant for slaughter.
“The oral swabs were found positive for highly contagious actinomyces, which is responsible for causing lumpy jaw disease in sheep,” says the report. “In addition, E. Coli and salmonella bacteria were also isolated in the sheep. They may cause food poisoning and dysentery in humans if meat of these animals is consumed.”
Shedding light on the report, a senior government veterinarian said that actinomycosis, commonly called lumpy jaw, causes immovable hard swellings on the jawbones of animals. “The disease is often diagnosed very late because the tumour-like swellings develop slowly and may take several months to reach a noticeable size,” he said. “When they finally become visible the disease usually ends up having advanced. The treatment is tough too.” Though lumpy jaw can be transferred to animal caretakers but such incidences were not common. The veterinarian said that the presence of salmonella was more worrying.
“Many countries have banned products contaminated with salmonella.”
According to the livestock department, the farm has been sealed and staff deputed there till test reports came back from the laboratory. Meanwhile, the National Food Security and Research Ministry has set up a committee to investigate the issue and submit a report within seven days.
Samples from the sheep have also been sent to laboratories in Islamabad and Tandojam to check for sheep pox, foot-and-mouth disease and Peste des petitis ruminants (PPR).