Concerned over the outbreak of Brucellosis (Malta fever), a bacterial infection that affects animals and is contagious for humans, a government farm in Thodupuzha in Idukki district culled 20 pigs.
The locals were concerned after annual blood tests found the bacteria present in some of the pigs on the farm. Following this, the Animal Husbandry Department culled and buried 11 adult pigs and nine piglets.
"The Brucella bacteria was found in the blood of a few pigs in the farm. But none of the animals had the symptoms of the disease," Dr Saju Joseph, Animal Husbandry officer of Idukki district, told media.
"We have culled them in the most scientific way. We have also done deep burial, and have taken all precautions to avoid spread to humans. There is nothing to get worried. The bacterial content in the animals was very low. The labourers and the staff in the farm are also very healthy," he added.
However, locals were concerned about burying the infected pigs causing the bacteria to spread through soil or water. But the department has ruled out all such possibilities.
Earlier in 2016, these bacteria were found in cattle at the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University’s (KVASU) farm at Thiruvazhamkunnu in Palakkad. KVASU had then culled more than 80 cows. The bacteria can be transmitted to humans by eating uncooked meat of infected animal or unpasteurized dairy products. It can also spread through the air and or through direct contact with infected animals.
In January 2019, a prisoner at the Kannur Central Prison was confirmed to have an infection caused by the Brucella bacteria.
Fever, joint pain and fatigue are the major symptoms of Brucellosis in humans. Human to human transmission of the disease is rare.