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Interactive Session Marks World Zoonoses Day: A Call to Action on Animal-Human Disease Prevention

The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying marked World Zoonoses Day with an interactive session to raise awareness about zoonotic diseases and their prevention.

KJ Staff
World Zoonoses Day (Representational Image Source:  Stanford Engineering - Stanford University)
World Zoonoses Day (Representational Image Source: Stanford Engineering - Stanford University)

In observance of World Zoonoses Day, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying organized a significant interactive session, chaired by the Secretary of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (AHD). The session underscored the importance of understanding zoonoses—infectious diseases transmissible between animals and humans—and emphasized preventive measures to safeguard public health.

Zoonoses encompass a range of diseases 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, highlighting the need for comprehensive public health strategies.

However, it is crucial to distinguish zoonotic diseases from non-zoonotic ones, which affect livestock without posing a risk to human health. Diseases such as Foot & Mouth Disease, PPR, Lumpy Skin Disease, Classical Swine Fever, and Ranikhet Disease are species-specific and cannot infect humans. Recognizing these differences helps prevent unnecessary fear and stigmatization of animals.

India, home to the largest livestock population globally with 536 million livestock and 851 million poultry, is also the largest producer of milk and the second-largest producer of eggs. This significant livestock population necessitates vigilant disease management practices.

Recently, African Swine Fever (ASF) was detected in Madakkatharan Panchayath, Thrissur district, Kerala. First reported in India in May 2020, ASF has since spread to around 24 States/UTs. The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying formulated the National Action Plan for Control of ASF in 2020. In response to the current outbreak, Rapid Response Teams conducted the culling of 310 pigs within a 1 km radius of the epicenter on July 5, 2024, with further surveillance planned within a 10 km radius. It is important to note that ASF is not zoonotic and does not pose a risk to humans.

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

To mitigate the risk of zoonotic diseases, the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying (DAHD) has launched nationwide campaigns for Brucella vaccination of bovine calves and Rabies Vaccination. The department also implements a comprehensive nationwide surveillance plan for economically significant 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 the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. This team is actively involved in collaborative outbreak investigations of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

Raising awareness aids in early detection, prevention, and control, ultimately protecting public health. Educating the public about the distinction between zoonotic and non-zoonotic diseases helps reduce unwarranted fear and promotes a more informed approach to animal health and safety.

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