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No anthrax at Delhi zoo: Officials

Delhi,Environment/Wildlife, Wed, 02 May 2012 IANS

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) Delhi zoo authorities Wednesday denied the spread of anthrax after a rhinoceros died here last week. Even as over 20 zoo employees are still under observation as a precaution, the zoo officials said "no anthrax symptoms have been found".


"No symptom of anthrax have been found in the workers. The mother of the dead rhinoceros also does not have any symptom despite the fact that they shared the same pool," said Riaz Khan, curator of the Delhi zoo.


Fears of the disease gripped zoo authorities after a young male Indian rhinoceros died of suspected anthrax last Friday. Doctors conducting its autopsy had recommended that samples be tested for anthrax infection as possible cause of death.


"Animals in the nearby enclosures have also not showed any sign of infection. But 22 zoo employees are under observation as a precautionary measure," Khan added.


The authorities have barricaded the rhinoceros enclosure for visitors. Other animals in the nearby enclosures were also isolated as a precautionary measure.


While the animal's blood samples were sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly, the results are yet to be confirmed, Khan said.


"It is highly unlikely that the cause of death was anthrax, but we are awaiting results of the tests for confirmation. Delhi's weather also does not support anthrax," Khan added.


The three-and-half-year-old rhino, named Junior Raja, the only male among the three rhinos at the zoo, is suspected to have died due to heart failure, the official said.


"We are suspecting heart attack behind the rhino's death. Still, the entire cage has been disinfected and all the employees are being administered antibiotics to resist any possible infection," Khan said.


However, zoo staffers can be seen covering their faces for prevention.


"There has been constant spray of disinfectants after a rhino died here. We are keeping our faces covered to prevent any possible infection," a refreshment stall owner close to the enclosure told IANS.


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