Farming and Agriculture

Careful of Zoonoses Diseases That Can Transfer From Farm Animals to Humans

10 July 2024, New Delhi: Zoonoses are infectious diseases that can transfer between animals and humans, such as rabies, anthrax, influenza (H1N1 and H5N1), Nipah, COVID-19, brucellosis, and tuberculosis. These diseases are caused by various pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi.

However, not all animal diseases are zoonotic. Many diseases affect livestock without posing a risk to human health. These non-zoonotic diseases are species-specific and cannot infect humans. Examples include Foot & Mouth Disease, PPR, Lumpy Skin Disease, Classical Swine Fever, and Ranikhet Disease. Understanding which diseases are zoonotic is crucial for effective public health strategies and preventing unnecessary fear and stigmatization of animals.

India boasts the largest livestock population, with 536 million livestock and 851 million poultry, accounting for approximately 11% and 18% of the global livestock and poultry population, respectively. Additionally, India is the largest producer of milk and the second-largest producer of eggs globally.

African Swine Fever (ASF) in Kerala

Recently, African Swine Fever (ASF) was detected in Madakkatharan Panchayath, Thrissur district, Kerala. ASF was first reported in India in May 2020 in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Since then, the disease has spread to around 24 States/UTs in the country. The Department formulated the National Action Plan for Control of ASF in 2020. For the current outbreak, Rapid Response Teams have been constituted by the State AH Department, and culling of pigs within a 1 km radius of the epicenter was carried out on July 5, 2024. A total of 310 pigs were culled and disposed of by deep burial. Further surveillance as per the action plan is to be carried out within a 10 km radius of the epicenter. It is important to note that ASF is not zoonotic and cannot spread to humans. Currently, there are no vaccines for ASF.

Prevention and Control of Zoonotic Diseases

Prevention and control of zoonotic diseases rely on vaccination, good hygiene, animal husbandry practices, and vector control. Collaborative efforts through the One Health approach, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health, are crucial. Collaboration among veterinarians, medical professionals, and environmental scientists is essential for addressing zoonotic diseases comprehensively.

Mitigating the Risk of Zoonotic Diseases

To mitigate the risk of zoonotic diseases, the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying (DAHD) has launched a nationwide campaign for Brucella vaccination of bovine calves under NADCP and undertaken Rabies Vaccination under ASCAD. The department is also implementing a comprehensive nationwide surveillance plan for economically important animal diseases. Additionally, under the One Health approach, the National Joint Outbreak Response Team (NJORT) has been established, comprising experts from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, ICMR, Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, ICAR, and Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change. This team has been actively involved in collaborative outbreak investigations of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

While zoonotic diseases pose significant public health risks, it is equally important to recognize that many livestock diseases are non-zoonotic and do not affect human health. By understanding these differences and focusing on appropriate disease management practices, we can ensure the health of both animals and humans, contributing to a safer and more secure environment for all.

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