Sat, 12 Feb 2000

After anthrax, now brucellosis

BANDUNG: Still reeling from the recent outbreak of anthrax in Purwakarta, the West Java administration is now on the alert after receiving reports of a possible outbreak of another animal disease, brucellosis.

The dangerous disease, caused by the brucella abortus bacteria, affects pregnant cows, especially dairy cows, and causes stillbirths and premature births.

The head of the administration's animal husbandry office, Tatang Henandar, said here on Friday the disease was first detected in the province in the middle of last year and has killed a total of 40 cows in Depok, Bogor, Pangalengan and Sukabumi.

"(But) Brucellosis has yet to become an epidemic," he claimed.

The immediate effect to farmers is that infected cows produce less milk.

"If milk production drops by nine liters per farmer a day, while the price of fresh milk is now between Rp 1,200 and Rp 1,500 per liter, you can imagine the financial losses," said Tatang.

There are some 60,000 diary cows in West Java, supplying 36.69 percent of the national demand for fresh milk.

Tatang said brucellosis is as not lethal as anthrax as the meat of infected cows can still be consumed.

"The disease could also strike pregnant woman. And premature babies are very possible because of it. However such cases have yet to be found so far." (25/sur)