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Signs of foot-and-mouth disease found in some gaur carcasses

Most recent tests show that four of the 24 gaurs that died mysteriously in December in Kui Buri National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan had foot-and-mouth disease, Nipon Chotibal, acting chief of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, said yesterday.

A panel of academics investigating the deaths will discuss the results today and look for ways to prevent further outbreaks. Mahidol University's Faculty of Veterinary Science conducted the lab tests and will officially announce the results on Tuesday.

Nipon said gaurs are more sensitive to the disease compared to other hoofed animals, citing previous gaur deaths in India from the same disease. It is suspected that the disease spread from other animals in the area, adding that foot-and-mouth disease had been detected in the province and in Ratchaburi earlier this year.

Nipon added that though the situation was under control to a certain degree, Kui Buri Park would remain closed indefinitely as a precaution. Tuenjai Nuchdamrong, director of the Wildlife Conservation Office, said this was the first time that traces of the disease has been found in wild gaurs in Thailand, adding that agencies would find ways to protect the remaining 100 gaur in Kui Buri and in Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Ratchasima.

Since it is believed that the foot-and-mouth disease might have been transmitted from a wild animal that was returned to nature without the knowledge of the authorities, she said the public and relevant agencies would be warned to no longer release animals without proper screening.

Initial tests showed 17 of gaur carcasses had traces of a nitrate compound, while nine had the bacteria Clostridium novyi. However, the cause of the deaths was not determined.


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