Dozens of cows and calves dying from a mysterious disease in Agua Caliente, a village of El Porvenir in Francisco Morazan [department], where the population is alarmed by the huge losses they are taking. This community is experiencing dramatic moments, as many peoples'main livelihood is the sale of cow milk and others lost their only pair of oxen for plowing in the winter. Some people say that the cows die suddenly and some say that the disease started after heavy rain fell. But some believe that [the cattle] are dying of rabies because they start to fight among themselves, then they start trembling, falling to the ground and they cannot get back up. There are also opinions that the water from the Rio Grande [river] in the area was contaminated by algae before the last rains during Easter week [18-24 Apr 2011]. Livestock owners are alarmed by the loss of so many cows. "These cows are dying without getting sick from lack of grass or water; also they remain on the banks of the Rio Grande," said a man who lost the only pair of oxen he had. The farmer said that when livestock owners visit their pastures they are surprised to find more than one cow dead, although they had already been medicated and "the strange thing is that the horses and donkeys are not getting ill." Several have already lost more than 10 head of cattle in recent days. It is said that at present a head of cattle costs up to 6000 lempira [about USD 318], so the losses are substantial. "Yesterday [24 Apr 2011] a relative visited his pasture and returned wild, pulling his hair and almost crying, saying 2 dairy cows have died, and he needed help to dispose of them," [the farmer] said.
Also, villagers complain that they no longer have milk for their children, because in the places where the cows died and in some areas where cows are still milking, people are afraid to buy [the milk] because they think the disease may be transmitted to humans through milk. Meanwhile, [another farmer] said "It is very sad to see people crying transporting their dead cows in the rear of trucks, some dumping them on the banks of the river and others burning them in their pastures." "The problem is that many have lost the only source of livelihood they had and the worst is that when cows have just given birth the calf is lost as well; and that is why people weep tears of sorrow," he lamented. Villagers comment that is the 1st time that a massive death toll in cattle has occurred, because in that sector there is always grass and water and they undertake vaccination against several diseases, including blackleg, and deworming. He explained that, "here in Agua Caliente in recent days almost all the dogs walk with the belly bloated from eating so much cow meat in the river and in the pastures." He said that the pestilence is felt in the environment with so many dead cows. Villagers recall that 2 years ago the same thing happened in El Porvenir, about 10 km [6 mi] from Agua Caliente, but at the time it was suspected that it was caused by water contaminated by mining in Valle de Siria. However, in this area they dismiss that possibility because of the distance, but authorities should determine the true cause of death and [alleviate] the fear that the disease can be transmitted to humans.