The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) has recently organized an interactive session on the eve of World Zoonoses Day. 

About Zoonoses/Zoonotic diseases:

  • Zoonoses are infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
  • Notable examples: – rabies, anthrax, influenza (H1N1 and H5N1), Nipah, COVID-19, brucellosis, and tuberculosis.
  • According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, approximately 60% of all diseases are zoonotic and about 70% of emerging infections originate from animals.

Differentiating Zoonotic and Non-Zoonotic Diseases:

  • While zoonotic diseases pose risks to both animal and human health. it’s important to distinguish them from non-zoonotic diseases that primarily affect animals. 
  • Many livestock diseases like Foot & Mouth Disease, PPR, Lumpy Skin Disease, Classical Swine Fever, and Ranikhet Disease are species-specific and do not affect humans.
  • Understanding this distinction is critical for targeted public health strategies, avoiding unnecessary stigma against animals.

World Zoonoses Day: 

  • It is Celebrated annually on July 6th, marking the anniversary of Louis Pasteur’s groundbreaking work on rabies vaccine in 1885.
  • The day raises awareness about zoonotic diseases and advocates for preventive measures, emphasizing the interconnectedness of human and animal health.

The Case of African Swine Fever (ASF):

  • Recently detected in Thrissur (Kerala), ASF is non-zoonotic and no vaccines are available for it. 
  • ASF was first detected in 2020 in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The disease has now spread to around 24 States/UTs in the country. 
  • The state Animal Husbandry departments have constituted rapid response teams to control it. 

Government Initiatives for Prevention:

Effective prevention of zoonotic diseases depends on several key strategies:

  • Vaccination Programs: Implementing robust vaccination programs for both humans and animals is essential.
  • Improved Hygiene Practices: Promoting good hygiene practices in communities helps limit the spread of pathogens.
  • Enhanced Animal Husbandry: Enhancing animal husbandry practices reduces the risk of disease outbreaks within animal populations.
  • Vector Control: Controlling insects and other organisms that transmit diseases is another crucial step.

One Health approach: Recognizing the interconnectedness between human, animal, and environmental health, the One Health approach has been devised to tackle zoonotic diseases comprehensively. 

  • Under it, the National Joint Outbreak Response Team (NJORT) has been established. The NJORT is a collaborative effort between the Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and the Ministry of Environment.
  • This team has been actively involved in collaborative outbreak investigations of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).
  • The DAHD has further strengthened these efforts with national campaigns for Brucella and Rabies vaccinations, along with comprehensive surveillance plans for key animal diseases.

Power of Awareness:

  • Public awareness campaigns play a pivotal role in early detection and prevention of zoonotic diseases, promoting informed practices in animal health and safety.
  • Educating communities about the differences between zoonotic and non-zoonotic diseases fosters responsible interaction with animals and enhances public health resilience.

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