Brucellosis or contagious abortion
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CTA. 2004. Brucellosis or contagious abortion. Rural Radio Resource Pack 04/03. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10568/57412
Dr Edward Okoth, Head of biological services at the International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi.
Brucellosis or contagious abortion Cue: While the majority of livestock diseases are of no risk to humans, some diseases, known as zoonoses, can be transmitted between animals and people. One high profile example of recent times is avian flu. Another zoonosis, more common in Africa, is brucellosis. The disease is also known as contagious abortion, and affects livestock all over the world. It is particularly dangerous when animals are kept close together in large numbers, such as in intensive production systems. Eric Kadenge recently visited the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi to find out more about this disease, and how farmers can protect both themselves and their animals against it. He spoke to Dr Edward Okoth, Head of Biological Services at the institute. IN: ?Brucellosis is a bacterial disease ? OUT: ?boil milk before you drink it.? DUR?N 5?16? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dr Edward Okoth with some important advice for preventing the spread of brucellosis, also known as contagious abortion, a disease which can be transmitted from livestock to humans. Transcript Okoth Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and the infection can be transmitted to humans also. The disease is spread through aborted foetuses from infected animals and its also transmitted through milk and especially milk that is not boiled or pasteurised. Kadenge Before we talk more about its effects on humans, I would like to find out what are the key symptoms that a farmer should look for in his livestock? Okoth The key symptom usually is abortion and especially in the later stages of pregnancy in animals, and infertility. That's the most common sign that you will always see. Kadenge Now if a farmer believes that one of his animals is affected, what steps should he or she take? Okoth The most important thing is to do a proper diagnosis. Currently there are diagnostic tools that are available and once an animal has been diagnosed with the disease, it's important to cull that animal. You basically need to cull it and get it out of the herd so that it doesn't become a source of infection to other animals. Currently I wouldn't say there are conventional treatment methods available though antibiotics have been tried against the disease but the key control is mainly vaccination against the disease, and also control of movement of the animals and culling of infected animals after diagnosis. Kadenge You mentioned abortion as one of the signs for this disease, what are the other effects that brucellosis brings to livestock? Okoth The other effect is especially in bulls or male animals - this disease also affects the testicles of the animals and this brings about infertility in the males. Kadenge Given that the disease seems to have quite drastic effects on the animals and treatment is also not yet quite available, how then can a farmer prevent his animal from getting this disease in the first place? Okoth It's good to note that there are vaccines - currently there are two vaccines that are very efficacious against this disease and these vaccines can be used to take care of or prevent the occurrence of the disease. So my main advice is - in areas where studies have shown this disease to be more prevalent, then efforts on vaccination have to be made. Kadenge And is this vaccination readily available to farmers in this country? Okoth Yes, it is commercially available and I believe it's readily available. Kadenge Could you mention briefly about how prevalent the disease brucellosis is in this country? Okoth Well, there is no good documentation of how spread the disease is within this country. But it's important to note that this disease is more common where herds are large more than where herds are smaller. And that's why you would expect this disease to be more prevalent in pastoral communities where they share watering facilities in large numbers. And this brings infected animals into contact with non-infected and even aborted foetuses and other materials. So I would say it's more prevalent in the pastoral communities and much less prevalent in people who have one or two animals and especially in zero grazing systems. Kadenge Any other reasons as to why it's more prevalent in pastoralist communities? Okoth The other reason could be more the common practice of drinking milk that is not boiled, because the disease is spread or can be transmitted through raw milk and drinking of raw milk is very common in pastoral communities. Kadenge Now talking about humans there, what effect does this disease have on human beings. Okoth Fever, muscle pains, joints pains; this disease can be easily confused with malaria and typhoid fever, so its not very easy to pinpoint because the symptoms are not very clear. Kadenge Would it make humans also abort or get sterile? Okoth So far a few cases of abortion have been reported - I mean - in literature you find a few of such cases but it's more of debilitating effects that the disease has. This bacteria sometimes lodges in joints and can cause lameness in humans. Kadenge So what would be your last word of advice to a farmer that has livestock in regards to this disease? Okoth My last word is more of - that when you see cases of abortion, number one - get in touch with your nearest veterinary clinic or government veterinary facilities and report this. And you will be sure to get advice on how best to control the disease. And secondly, it's also important to note that this disease affects humans and one has to be very careful how they handle aborted foetuses and also the fact that you need to boil milk before you drink it. End of track.
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