NORTH LAKHIMPUR, April 27 - Carcasses of pigs floating on the Ranganadi river and lying on its shallow banks have led to panic in many villages and discomfort in Lakhimpur district.
Such incidents have been reported from the downstream areas of the river since April 24, where the dead animals on the river are not only leaving a stinking smell, but also set alarm bells ringing among the people of this riverine area of a possible outbreak of another epidemic amid the lockdown for coronavirus. The presence of carcasses of pigs on Ranganadi is affecting the lives of thousands of villagers of the downstream areas who drink water from the same river and use it for washing and bathing. Their cattle also have stopped drinking water from the river due to the contamination. The villagers are also concerned by the nocturnal menace of dogs that scramble to feed on the dead pigs in that area. The outbreak of swine fever in Lakhimpur district and the throwing of the carcasses of the pigs into the river in the upstream areas of the Ranganadi may be the reason of panic in the downstream villages.
Thousands of pigs have died across Lakhimpur districts of possible classical swine fever at a time when piggeries have been hit by the COVID-19 lockdown in the State. In Tamera-Mising village under Narayanpur Revenue Circle of Lakhimpur district, hundreds of pigs have been dying in the last three days. Each of the villagers, who keep pigs are losing two-three of them daily on an average these days.
More than 2000 pigs have died so far at Gogamukh on Lakhimpur-Dhemaji district boundary since last week. Symptoms like high fever, unconsciousness, problem in breathing, vomiting, dysentery, loss of appetite, forming of reddish warts near the ear, mouth, legs and groins have been reported in the affected animals from Gogamukh.
In Dhakuakhana subdivision of the district, most of the cases of swine fever have been reported from the riverine areas. The epidemic was widespread in 15 villages like Ezarguri, Bogoriguri and neighbouring areas under Kherkota Gaon Panchayat. A pig farmer says that the mortality rate of animals kept in captivity are relatively low than those who roam freely outside the households and visit the paddy fields. However, the State Veterinary department has launched vaccination of pigs in some villages from April 25 onwards.
It may be recalled that cases of pigs dying in large numbers in unknown diseases have been reported since mid-February this year in Silapathar-Chimen Chapori areas of Dhemaji and in riverine areas of Gohpur in Biswanath districts � both neighbouring Lakhimpur. On March 2, there were reports of many carcasses of pigs seen floating on the Sisi-Tongani river of Dhemaji district which joins Lai-Pulia river in Lakhimpur district. The Lai-Pulia river becomes Chari-Kodiya in Dhakuakhana before meeting the Subansiri in its downstream. A major portion of fishes supplied in Lakhimpur district come from these rivers.
Veterinary experts in the State have so far ruled out the outbreak of swine flu or H1N1 and attributed the present epidemic to classical swine fever. Classical swine fever is a viral disease that affects pigs only and requires vaccination in time. There is a Classical Swine Fever Control Programme (CSF-CP) in the department of veterinary of the State which was added in the scheme of Livestock, Health and Disease Control Programme since 2014-15. The Lakhimpur district administration has not made any statement over the swine fever epidemic in the district so far. Burning or burying the carcasses in 3-4-feet-deep pits is the advisable way to stop the spread of the epidemic.