DNA:Ahmedabad:Prashant Thakor:Tuesday, February 14, 2012.
One after another, wild asses in the Little Rann of Kutch are meeting with unnatural deaths. After the tragic incident in which five wild asses drowned in the Narmada canal near Dhrangadhra recently, two more have died due to a mysterious fever called surra.
A few days back, deaths of two wild asses were reported in the sanctuary near Odu village of Dasada taluka of Surendranagar. According to forest officials, the two wild asses died due to malaria-like fever which could be surra, a fatal disease found in horses.
During their routine watch on the rare animal roaming freely in the sanctuary, forest officials found two seek looking wild asses near Odu village and took them to Bajana-based animal care centre. During their treatment, both the wild asses died within few days.
After their deaths, forest officials sought the help of Dr Mukesh Patel, a government veterinary doctor from Patdi, to diagnose the disease that killed the wild asses. "After examining the blood samples, the doctors concluded that these animals died due to a mysterious fever, which can be surra, a malaria-like disease which is normally spread by a wild fly," said NA Khavadia, range forest officer of Patdi. To know the exact cause of the deaths, doctors took the samples of vital organs and blood samples of the wild asses and sent them to Anand Agricultural University for further probe.
According to some websites on animal diseases, surra is a chronic wasting disease caused by Trypanosomes parasites related to the organisms that cause sleeping sickness. The disease, which is spread by biting flies, is most severe in horses, donkeys, mules and deer. Surra is usually fatal in horses, donkeys and mules. Clinical signs in horses, donkeys and mules include fever, haemorrhages of the eyelids, nostrils and anus; skin rashes; weight loss and jaundice.
"After learning about the deaths, we are worried about 4,037 surviving wild asses in our sanctuary. As a precaution, we are keeping a watch on the wild asses in our range, so that we can rescue them as soon as they develop the symptoms. We have learnt that surra is spread by a fly, found in desert areas," said NS Karamta, RFO of Dhrangadhra range.