PESHAWAR: Research scholar and expert on Zoonotic diseases, Dr Muhammad Shahid, has stressed for raising awareness about the threats posed to public health by brucellosis disease, one of the most contagious bacterial infections of livestock that also affects humans, especially those handling animals.
“Brucellosis is an occupational disease, with those predominantly at risk either having close contact with livestock or handling them,” stated Dr Shahid.
Dr Shahid, who is serving as Senior Research Officer Microbiology and Biotechnology Center, Veterinary Research Institute (VRI) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said that in developing countries, the disease has public health significance as well as animals and economic implications for communities.
In view of the increase in the occurrence of brucellosis infection cases among people even in dwellers of urban localities, it is needed to create awareness about threats posed by this disease and measures for prevention from it, Dr Shahid suggested.
“Brucellosis frequently affects people who are in direct contact with infected animals and its by-products,” he said.
The disease’s major source of transmission is the consumption of raw milk or unpasteurised dairy products from infected animals.
Dr Shahid also laid stress on holding research in finding out more causes of brucellosis infection like consumption of meat of an infected animal, and transmission through other pet animals like dogs and cats.
In Pakistan, he continued, research has been done only on ruminants including cattle, buffaloes, sheep and goats.
There is also a need of conducting research on the transmission of the disease from dogs, which is a very common pet animal, he reiterated.
There are seven to eight species of brucellosis bacteria, among them the most common and reported are Brucella abortus and Brucella melitensis.
About the symptoms of disease among people, Dr Shahid said these include severe fever, excessive sweating and joint pains.
In animals also, the major symptom of brucella is miscarriage, after which the animal is brought to the veterinary hospital and blood samples lead to the detection of infection.
The treatment of animals is also expensive and in most cases, veterinary doctors advise owners for culling of the animal. If preventive measures are taken, people can be saved from the economic losses they face due to the infection of their animals, he observed.
In Pakistan, the incidence of brucellosis is increasing day by day, particularly in large dairy herds. This infection has a considerable impact on human and animal health as well as on socioeconomic factors where rural income relies mainly on land cultivation and domestic animal farming and people usually live in very close proximity to their livestock.
Sharing details of cases of brucellosis reported in KP during the current year, he said the occurrence is around 12.2 percent among males in Peshawar district while in the female it is registered 13.9 percent.
Similarly, in Charsadda, 9.3 cases were reported in males and 15.3 in females. In Buner, 60 percent in males, 15.3 percent in Swat among males and 11.1 percent in Swabi among males.
The blood test of suspected patients is sent to Microbiology and Biotechnology Center from almost all the hospitals of the province and the diagnosis takes two to three days.
He said researchers at Veterinary Research Institute are also working on the preparation of a vaccine, which is presently imported from abroad.
Brucellosis can be controlled by routine screening of domestic livestock and animal vaccination programmes, he advised.
Dr Shahid also suggested screening of Afghans visiting Pakistan at border posts for brucellosis tests.
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