Animal deaths, threat to humans continue to plague village

Outbreak in Aygabats: Animal deaths, threat to humans continue to plague
30 april 2004

By Marianna Grigoryan reporter

A case of human anthrax infection is believed to have been found in the
Aygabats village of Shirak region. Last week, ArmeniaNow reported an
outbreak of the disease that had caused the deaths of 40 cattle. Tigran

On Tuesday (April 27), villager Harutyun Khachatryan, who had been in
contact with the infected animals, showed symptoms of anthrax infection and
was taken to hospital in Gyumri.

Doctors say Khachatryan is in satisfactory condition, but, in the village
tensions are high, as animals continue to die.

“This week the number of dead animals in the village has reached 48,” says
head of the village Gagik Altunyan. “The village is still in quarantine,
members of the committee pay frequent visits and do tests, but our situation
is still unclear.”

The outbreak started after April 15 when animals began to die following
anti-anthrax vaccinations.

The chief veterinary doctor of the republic Anushavan Aghajanyan visited the
village and expressed a preliminary opinion that the reason of the cattle’s
death was anthrax.

A special committee was formed to determine if the cause of the outbreak was
the vaccine. Tests were sent to Moscow for evaluation.

Minister of Agriculture David Lokyan would not reveal the name of the
company producing the vaccine. He did say, however, that if tests proved the
vaccine was faulty, compensation for the villagers would be demanded of the

“Information that the reason of deaths in Aygabats is our vaccine is
slander,” said director of Biopreparat LLC Tigran Sahakyan.

Sahakyan says that only 15 days ago more than 400 cattle in the Vayk region
were vaccinated with the same vaccine and there have been no ill effects

“The vaccine has been produced during five years by the same scientific
group and during those years we have done 10 million vaccinations of animals
in different regions of the republic,” says Sahakyan. “And there’s never
been such a case. Though it’s true that vaccination time coincided with the
time when animals died, that alone is not enough to accuse out company. If
during five years we provided the vaccine with absolutely no problems, this
already shows for itself.”

Sahakyan says that before the vaccine is administered it is tested by
specialists and that such tests revealed no problems with the medicine
applied in Aygabats.

The vaccine .
“There are no components in the vaccine which can cause anthrax,” he says.
“The product itself can fight against anthrax but it cannot cause that

Doctor of veterinary sciences, Meruzhan Zadayan was among scientists
investigating the Aygabats case and says the vaccine is not to blame.

“The anti-anthrax serum is one of the few vaccinations that has strict
rules,” says Zadayan. “It is obvious that these rules have been violated in
the village.”

According to the specialist, the vaccine cannot be used for instance on
animals in the last stages of pregnancy, or during cold or hot weather, or
on exhausted animals. Nor can it be combined with other vaccines. (In
Aygabats at the time of vaccination, nights reached temperatures below

According to Zadayan the anti-anthrax vaccine was used on cows and mixed
with a separate vaccine for another disease.

“I don’t want to rush, but the problem in Aygabats is obviously different,
there are indexes of several diseases,” says Sahakyan. “Not only
non-vaccinated cattle has died but dogs and cats as well. They do not get
infected with anthrax.”

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS