Animals affected by skin disease enter livestock markets as govt bickers

Published June 7, 2022
One of the infected farm animals. — Dawn photo
One of the infected farm animals. — Dawn photo

KARACHI: In the absence of any effective mechanism at city’s entry points to isolate diseased animals, cattle infected with lumpy skin disease (LSD) are being brought to Karachi’s livestock markets ahead of Eidul Azha, it emerged on Monday.

Sources said local government-hired contractors were minting money from livestock traders in the name of “animal health clearance fee” and allowed them to transport their animals to city’s markets.

They said the contractors had three fee collection checkpoints, one of them located near Sassi Toll Plaza on National Highway, the second in front of a cement factory on M-9 and the other along an animal market in the Mowach Goth area on Northern Bypass.

“There is no vet at these checkpoints and the sole purpose is to extort money from traders throughout the year. This time, we are paying Rs400 per big animal in the name of health clearance fee with no veterinary service at all,” a livestock trader told Dawn.

Market on Superhighway returns entire consignment after nine cows found to have lumpy skin disease

The traders had been raising voice against the extortion for many years but to no avail, he added.

The sources said the majority of LSD-infected animals were being transported from Punjab, where the cases of the disease were on the rise. Nine LSD cases, they said, were identified and officially reported by the sacrificial livestock market set up and managed by the Cantonment Board Malir every year.

“Since May 27, nine cows were found to have LSD on examination by a government veterinary team posted at the market. No animal was unloaded and the entire consignment returned,” said a spokesperson of the market, adding that traders were also being asked to produce vaccination certificates.

When contacted, provincial director general-livestock Dr Nazeer Kalhoro said it was the responsibility of the KMC to supervise cattle markets in the city and ensure that no diseased animal entered the markets as they collected taxes from traders.

“We know that the local government staff is charging money from traders without providing any service but we haven’t received any complaint in writing yet,” he said, adding that the department had sent a letter to the KMC two weeks back to take precautionary measures ahead of Eidul Azha.

“Under the federal government guidelines, no animal should be allowed to enter markets without production of LSD or goat pox vaccination certificate by the animal owner/trader. We are implementing these instructions at three provincial border points in Ghotki, Kashmore and Hub and we may increase the number of checkpoints, if the local government doesn’t respond to the situation,” he said.

The department, Dr Kalhoro pointed out, was short-staffed and its manpower was also engaged in LSD vaccination.

“The LSD situation in the province has improved due to our active response under which we have vaccinated 2.2 million cows so far and the target is to cover four million animals by the end of this month,” he said.

He urged the general public not to get afraid of LSD as the cattle disease posed no threat to human health. “A large number of animals safely recovered but still have scars on their skins. People must not reject such animals as they have developed life-long immunity against the disease. The vaccination, however, provides immunity against LSD only for one to two years.”

KMC official Iqbal Nawaz contended that the corporation played no role in cattle markets’ supervision. “It’s not our job. We are only responsible for examining animals meant for slaughter whereas the animal fee is being collected by the district municipal corporation concerned.”

Published in Dawn,June 7th, 2022

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