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Dead Goats in Birbum West Bengal Cause Concern

Hundreds of goats have died of an unknown disease over the past four days in Birbhum's Rampurhat block II. A farmer said his goat was shivering and sneezing and saliva was oozing from its mouth. He had called in a local vet, who could only say the animal was suffering from high fever but could not pinpoint a disease. Though he prescribed medicines, those have not worked. The farmer, who has already lost 35 chickens to bird flu, is now scared about his livestock. He said that several neighbours had lost their goats as well to the mystery ailment. The animals had fever and their throats started swelling before they fell unconscious and died within minutes. At Dakhalbati, more than 60 goats have died so far. Villagers are blaming bird flu, as the symptoms are similar. But the state administration has claimed there was no information of cattle dying in the district. "It could be pneumonia, which commonly affects goats." The dying goats in Birbhum are cause for concern as Birbhum is the epicenter for the H5N1 in West Bengal, where there are also over 2000 people with an undiagnosed fever. H5N1 has not been reported in goats previously, although influenza has been noted in horses (H7N7 and H3N8) as well as dogs (H3N8). H5N1 has the ability to jump to many species, including mammals. In addition to humans, H5N1 has been isolated from pigs, dogs, cats, ferrets, foxes, stone martens, civet cats, and mice, so a goat host can’t be ruled out. Two of the most common characteristics of H5N1 are pneumonia and rapid death.

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