Veterinary experts express concern over rate of animal diseases in humans
Veterinary experts have expressed concern at the increasing rate of animal diseases manifesting in human beings.
Some of the veterinary experts, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja, blamed the appearance of the diseases, medically known as “Zoonossis” to increased contact between humans and animals.
Dr Bala Mohammed, a Veterinary Surgeon said that the zoonossis diseases were now affecting humans at a fast rate.
“Zoonotic diseases can be caused by germs including viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi that can cause different types of illnesses in people and animals ranging from mild to serious illnesses and even death.
“It is important to know that animals do not always appear sick when carrying a zoonotic diseases, many animals can appear healthy but still be carrying the germs that can make people sick,’’ he said.
He identified the diseases caused by animals to include tuberculosis and rabies.
He said that bats, cats, cattle, chimpanzees, dogs, geese, monkeys and rabbits were agents of zoonotic pathogens.
Mohammed, who is also a former General-Secretary of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), blamed the appearance of new zoonotic pathogens in human populations on increased contact between humans and wildlife.
“Looking at the population of the wildlife reservoirs, there are lots of wild animals roaming the streets.’’
He said that husbandry system of animals production were being abused daily and people were sharing their bodies, plates and beds with pets.
Mohammed described the abattoir as a place where zoonossis could easily be spread.
“The conduct of operations in our abattoirs calls for concern because it has a lot of implications on our lives.’’
He said that the issue with abattoirs and zoonotic diseases had been a serious problem that needed the upgrades of facilities at the abattoirs, which the government had neglected.
“We have seen successive governments talk about how to improve it but their major concern is the revenue being generated by the people without the corresponding value addition on the facilities.
“The situation remains stagnant until there is progress,’’ he said.
He described the states of abattoirs in the country as horrible and distasteful, while the unhygienic environment, poor meat handling and substandard products found in most abattoirs could cause such diseases.
Mohammed said most of the slaughterhouse floors and gutters were filled with stagnant mixture of blood, water and excreta making the abattoir environment filthy.
He said that most butchers killed unhealthy animals and slaughtered pregnant animals, adding that some of such animals eaten could have been infected with zoonotic diseases such as worm infestations and tuberculosis.
“There are lots of diseases that you get directly from animals through direct consumption of meat or secondary contamination from meat,’’ he said.
He said that they were supposed to be different sections dealing with post slaughter inspection and transportation of meat in the abattoirs.
“The veterinary association will continue to let the authority know what it is right.
“The association is now pushing for a law that will enforce proper handling of meat at all levels,’’ he said.
Prof. Garuba Sharubutu, the President, Veterinary Council of Nigeria said that the situation would continue to remain in the deplorable state because there no more surveillance.
He said that agencies that monitored zoonotic diseases such as research institutes and at the universities, including the Federal Department of Veterinary and Pest Control were handicapped because they were all on zero budget allocation.
Sharubutu, who is also the Provost of the Federal College of Animal Health and Technology, Vom, Jos, called on government to act fast because the situation was becoming dangerous by day.
He said that the easiest places to contact such diseases were the abattoirs, adding that a recent report showed that most of the abattoirs across the country were operating under unhygienic and sub-standard conditions.
“They lack basic requirements for a good abattoir as stipulated in the Policy Guidelines on Market and Abattoir Sanitation.’’
He stressed that the urgent need to enforce the minimum standards as stipulated in the policy guidelines.
The provost said that the zoonosis phenomenon could only be prevented through basic hygiene.
“Highly mobile animals such as bats and birds also present a greater risk of zoonosis,” he said.
He said that even some epidemic diseases started out as zoonotic diseases.
The veterinarian said that it was difficult to ascertain which diseases “jumped`’ from other animals to humans.
“But there is good evidence that measles, small pox and tuberculosis, among others came to us this way.’’