Paddy harvesting, threshing and its storage are major agricultural activities in south Asia during the November. Such rice straw is the major fodder for cattle and buffaloes during winter lean period. It´s a fact that rice production needs source of water supply for irrigation as water is indispensable throughout production period. The rice straw should be properly dried before feeding otherwise the undried straw might desiccate and such straw feeding would cause adverse effect in health of cattle and buffaloes.
The harvesting of paddy was adversely affected in Nepal and other south Asian countries Due to long rain during the month of November and December. The rice plants were submerged in the paddy field and the rice straw got desiccated. Due to rain threat the farmers were compelled to store the rice straw without thorough drying.
As a consequence symptoms like drying and necrosis of tail and ear tip, swelling of legs and then drying, necrosis and gangrenous lesion on foot, reduction in milk production by 70-80% were observed in buffaloes fed to such straw. In Nepal such conditions were reported from districts like Jhapa, saptari, siraha, Rautahat, Chitwan, nawalparasi, Kathmandu, Nuwakot,Banke and Lamjung. The vet doctors and technicians working in such areas were treating such condition diagnosing as FMD, Black Quarter etc but without success.
What´s in other south Asian countries?
There is interesting fact about above mentioned symptoms, geographical location and livestock production system. During 1930s in Punjab Province of Pakistan, the health of buffaloes fed with rice straw from vicinity of Deg River deteriorated with symptoms similar to aforementioned. The British animal health technician J.E.Sirllow working there during that time named the disease with all above symptoms as DEGNALA. But he was unable to pin point the exact cause of that disease.
There is evidence that during 1960-70s the veterinarians in Punjab area of Pakistan and India again discussed about this disease. In 1973 the rice straw from disease area of Punjab Ludhiana of India was found to be infected with fungus Fusarium SPP tested in kyu surrey laboratory of UK. The investigators have claimed that due to feeding to fungus infected feed and straw, the toxin produced during metabolism is the cause of disease and symptoms in buffaloes.
In present context above mentioned disease is not only prevalent in vicinity of Deg River but also prevalent in all those areas where buffaloes are kept fed with rice straw. In India this disease is seen annually in Panjab, Hariyana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Bihar, Bengal, Jharkhand, chhatisgard states.
In Nepal Degnala disease was first reported in 1988 in Banke district but epidemic outbreak was in 2000 AD in Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Siraha, Saptari, Banke, and Bardia districts. Again this time after 12 yrs this disease is reappeared in above mentioned districts of Nepal situation is not different in other countries in this region and winter rain is responsible for it.
The cause of symptoms in this disease has been thoroughly studied by this columnist during his Master degree in veterinary medicine. The mycotoxin produced by the metabolism of Fusariam fungus dissolves the collagen and elastin into collagenase and elastinase respectively. As a result in the dependent parts of ear, tail, foot blood supply is obstructed and ultimately tissue die of anoxia. In addition to this toxin severely affects liver, lungs, heart, and kidney.
Treatment and Control
- If possible avoid feeding of desiccated straw
- Feed properly dried straw and feed half quantity. Give adequate supplementation of green fodder and tree fodder.
- Treat the infected with sodium hydroxide @ 1% for 20kg straw.
- If available use pentasulphate @ 60 gm on first day and then @30 gm for next 15 days.
- Antidegnala liquid @ 10ml orally for 10 days.
- Mineral mixture and lactoline should be given along with straw.
What can be done for future control?
Vet technician and farmers should be trained regarding the prevention.
Priority should be given for such disease.
Let´s hope winter rain won´t come next year. We can´t wait until symptoms to appear on buffaloes, in winter lean period give above mentioned drugs along with straw. If symptoms appear, report as soon as possible.
- ARORA, S. P. (1980): Use of radioactive selenium for studies on Degnala disease. J. Nuclear Agri. Biol. 9, 11-13.
- BLOOD, D. C., O. M. RADOSTITS (1989): Veterinary Medicine, 7th ed. Bailliere Tindall. London.
- IRFAN, M. (1971): The clinical picture and pathology of Degnala disease in buffaloes. Vet. Rec. 88, 422-424.
- IRFAN, M., A. MAQBOOL (1986): Studies on Degnala disease in cattle and buffaloes. Pak. Vet. J. 6, 87-93.
- IRFAN, M., A. MAQBOOL, M. ASHFAQUE (1984): Importance of moulds, fungi and mycotoxins in food and feeds. Pak. Vet. J. 4, 187-192.
- KALRA, D. S., K. C. BHATIA, O. P. GAUTAM, M. V. S. CHAUHAN (1972): An obscure disease (possibly Deg Nala disease) in buffaloes and cattle. Studies on its epizootiolgy, pathology and etiology. Haryana Agri. Univ. J. Res. 2, 256-264.
- KHAJARERN, J., S. KHAJARERN, C. RATANASETHAKUL (1990): Efficacy of hydrated sodium calcium aluminosalicilate (Novasil) on the bioavailibility of aflatoxins in the ducks. Proc. 7th Fed. Asian Vet. Assoc. Congress. Pattaya, Thialand.
- PATTERSON, D. S. P., B. A. ROBERTS (1977): Mycotoxins in food and feed. Proceedings of second meeting on mycotoxins in animal disease. Aberdeen 1976 MAFF Pinner. p. 40.
- SCHOENTAL, R. (1980): Save your animals from Deg Nala disease. J. Nuclear Agri. Biol. 92, 27-28.
- SHIRLAW, J. E. (1939): Deg Nala disease of buffaloes. An account of the lesions and essential pathology. Indian Vet. Sci. Anim. Husb. 9, 853-864.