By Aisar Fagge
Over 2 million people die every year across the globe as a result of zoonotic diseases that people get from food, water and mostly from their contacts with animals such as dogs, cats, cows and the meat they eat.
Dr Muhammad Adamu Abbas, Head of Department, Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Bayero University, Kano stated this during a monthly seminar organized by the Community Health Organization (CHR) in collaboration with Youth Society for the Prevention of Infectious Disease and Social Vices (YOSPIS), held on Wednesday, 20th July, 2022 at CHR’s conference room, Kano.
The aim of the seminar which was sponsored by Dr Aminu Magashi, the Coordinator of Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) is bring members of the academia, Civil Society Organizations, Non-governmental organizations and media practitioners to interact and proffer solutions to lingering problems around health, population and youth matters.
In his paper titled: Zoonotic Diseases: What are they & their effect on Health and Socio-economic Development,” Dr Abbas said zoonosis is an infectious disease that jumps from animals to humans in the form of virus, fungus, bacteria, parasite or from human environment. Deadly diseases such as Covid-19, Ebola, SARS, Anthrax, bird flu, Lassa fever are all zoonoses family.
Touching infected animals, mosquito bite, eating contaminated food, eggs or meat, polluted air or kissing sick pets such as dogs and cats are all means of transmission.
“Pregnant women, children of 5 years old or younger, people with weakened immune system and people who have regular contacts with animals have high risk of zoonotic diseases.”
According to the speaker, “Of every 4 emerging and re-emerging diseases, 3 are zoonoses while 60% of zoonoses are from animals – wild and pets. Similarly, 80% of bio-terrorism agents are pathogens of animal origin.”
Dr Abbas affirms that zoonoses force more danger to poor and vulnerable societies in Africa and Asia. But unfortunately poverty, poor health system and facilities worsen the situation.
In Nigeria, majority of the people are farmers. They have regular contacts with their animals. “North [for example] is the major supplier of meat to other parts of the country. In those days, there were people who check the health of an animal before and after it was slaughtered in order to protect people [from zoonotic diseases]. But nowadays because of too many slaughter houses and butchers, many animals are being eaten unchecked,” he lamented.
In order to tackle zoonotic diseases in countries like Nigeria, the speaker said, “educating the people and mass awareness, poverty reduction, collaboration between health workers and early detection of these diseases are of paramount importance”.
Many questions were asked by the participants and some of the ways to go forward is to sensitize people about the importance of hygiene and take the campaign to the slaughter houses, farmers and hunters.