Jamshedpur, Oct. 25: Four sambars have died at Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary deer park in the past 48 hours, triggering fears of a lethal anthrax infection that also affects humans.
While one sambar died in the small hours of today, three breathed their last on October 23. Sensing danger, a team of vets from Chandil and Seraikela, along with sanctuary officials, sent blood samples of the carcasses today to Veterinary College, Kanke, in Ranchi, to confirm anthrax. The report is expected early next week.
There are 11 sambars and 35 spotted deer at the 10-hectare park in Makulakocha village, part of the sanctuary, a tourist attraction some 25km off Jamshedpur.
Ranchi (wildlife division) DFO Kamlesh Pandey said they suspected anthrax behind the fatalities. “But this can be confirmed only after a blood test,” he added.
Anthrax, caused by Bacillus anthracis, form dormant spores that can survive for centuries, even in harsh Antarctica. If it spreads, it can cause an epidemic.
The infection, which attacks pulmonary, gastrointestinal or cutaneous organs, was once widespread across the world and persists in developing countries.
It fatally infects humans and animals through contact on broken skin and through the food chain. Infection occurs through inhalation or intake of spores in any form, or broken skin coming into contact with the Bacillus.
French scientist Louis Pasteur developed the first effective vaccine for anthrax in 1881.
Carcasses of animals with active anthrax at the time of death being a source of infection, the four deer have been buried at a “depth of 8ft at a faraway place”, Pandey said.
“Though anthrax has not been confirmed, we are aware of consequences. For safety of other animals and human population inside the sanctuary, a high level of hygiene is being maintained. Lime and neem in powder form have been sprinkled to prevent infections. Animals have been given antibiotic injections,” he added.
Dalma range officer Mangal Kacchap said they requested the state government to supply anti-anthrax vaccines. “I have written to animal husbandry officers of East Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan to arrange vaccines. I have also requested them to conduct vaccination drives in villages to protect cattle. These are precautionary steps,” he added.