Of the 250 dung samples of buffalo calves from various districts of the state tested at the Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Hisar, 10% had bovine coronavirus present in them. There are no vaccines yet to combat the bovine virus.
The research team collected dung samples from 250 calves less than a month old, across several districts for testing.
As the nation struggles with the COVID 19 pandemic, there is another cause of alarm as bovine coronavirus, commonly referred to as BCV, has been found in cattle in Haryana.
“We were working on a project of ICAR [Indian Council of Agricultural Research], when we stumbled upon the bovine coronavirus in Haryana,” Minakshi Prasad, professor and head of the animal biotechnology department at the Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Hisar, told Gaon Connection.
“The ICAR project was to find out why calves of buffaloes died and what diseases calves were vulnerable to,” Prasad explained.
The research team collected dung samples from 250 calves less than a month old, across several districts for testing. “The test reports were startling. Of the two hundred and fifty samples we had collected, ten per cent of them had traces of the bovine coronavirus present in them,” Prasad said.
The research team tried to find out the origin of the virus. “This virus is infectious and can be passed on from one species to another. We found the virus had been passed on to the buffalo calves from camels,” Prasad explained.
Hisar district of Haryana lies cheek by jowl with Rajasthan, and camels often frequent this area, informed the professor. “In villages the camels are tied up quite close to where the calves are, and it is easy for the virus to spread,” she added.
The virus can spread through air, fodder, water and dung, Prasad said. And from one animal to another. “While the bigger animals have stronger immunities, they are not as badly affected as calves who are more easily infected,” Prasad said.
Does the bovine coronavirus pose a threat to humans? To this, Prasad responded that they were yet to determine that. “There are so many variants and mutations, that we are yet to be certain about how and who the virus can infect.” Experiments and research are underway to find out, she added.
However, the virus has been detected in chickens too, and the worrying thing is that there are no vaccines yet to combat the bovine virus.
One of the symptoms of the bovine coronavirus is diarrhoea in the calves. Sometimes it leads to death. The virus can spread to adult animals, Prasad warned.
“It is important that farmers and dairy farmers stay alert and in case the cattle are unwell, they should be isolated from the other animals,” Prasad cautioned.
Read the story in Hindi.