At least 40 cattle have died in the village of Aygabats (about 128 kilometers north of Yerevan). Anushavan Aghajanyan, head of State Veterinary Inspection at the Ministry of Agriculture visited the Shirak region village and said the preliminary cause of death is anthrax.
Village head Gagik Altunyan blames the deaths on defective vaccinations for the disease, administered April 15.
Ministry of Agriculture officials have not confirmed Altunyan’s suspicions, while awaiting test results from samples sent to Moscow.
Chief Sanitary doctor of Armenia Vladimir Davidyants says villagers have been examined and none has tested positive for anthrax poisoning.
But Altunyan says the damage, though not in human illness, is severe.
“During one day our whole village was deprived of its right to live,” says Altunyan. “Almost all the families suffered. Vaccination was done April 15 and on the 16th the cattle started dying one after the other. They started dying after vaccinations. The damage is terrible, especially for us, villagers, whose main income source were these animals.”
The villagers brought officials’ attention to their situation on April 19, when they blocked the road from Gyumri to Yerevan – some, by lying in the road. The Minister of Agriculture promised to compensate for loses and a fresh vaccination was given to the remaining cattle. Since, according to Altunyan, there has been no further infection.
“The village has to be in quarantine, meaning no one will enter or leave the village, so people will not be able to sell their products and live,” Altunyan says. “Even after the quarantine the village will be notorious and it’s not clear where the villagers will sell their product.”
The value of the cattle lost is undetermined. Minister of Agriculture David Loqyan would not say which pharmaceutical company provided the suspicious vaccination, but said that if the medicine is found to be the cause, the company will be forced to compensate.