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Animal diseases pose a risk to public health and cause damage to businesses and the economy at large.
Covid-19 belongs to the family of zoonoses, which are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. However, there are no cases of domestic livestock and human transmission.
Thus, farmers are still encouraged to be on the lookout for the virus by ensuring good personal hygiene and personal protection.
Since there are no COVID-2019 cases reported so far due to animals to human transmission, farmers are encouraged to look after their livestock (Tekola, 2020).
According to Shanko et al., 2015 an estimate of about 60-70 percent of emerging infectious diseases in humans are of zoonotic origin worldwide. Approximately 1.7 million of undiscovered viruses may exist in wildlife. Many researchers are searching for the ones that could cause the next animal-to-human spillover.
What are the roles and duties of veterinarians during the pandemic
Veterinarians play a vital role in safeguarding public health, this is because they are oftenly the first to establish a case of infectious disease and help to prevent epidemics. Therefore, it is advisable for the medical and veterinary sectors to work closely together in clinical, public health and research settings to ensure that everyone is aware of the outbreaks (Shanko et al., 2015). Furthermore, Veterinarians are the best at giving and distributing information about the risk of zoonotic diseases and how to minimize them (Robertson et al., 2000).
Proper management of wildlife and domestic livestock in a sustainable and environment friendly way
It is important to put measures in place to reduce the risk of diseases, because livestock and wildlife populations will both be affected by diseases at some point. The control of diseases shared by wildlife requires the development of strategies that will reduce pathogen transmission between wildlife and domestic animals or human beings (Gortazar et al., 2015). Thus, a good management program provides the environment, housing, good health, quality manure, increases reproduction and production.
There are several methods that can be used to control diseases in livestock and wildlife, namely:
- Preventive actions
This promotes health and wellbeing of the farm and prevents suffering to animals as well as farmers. Having proper ventilation within the animal houses is of vital need. The house should enable the livestocks to be free from sharp objects, it should be dry and clean at all times. Avoid the build-up of fecal, because when it dries up it causes fecal dust that can be inhaled.
Vaccination is highly used to prevent diseases and the threat of transmission. Which has been used worldwide to treat outbreaks of many zoonosis (rabies, foot and mouth disease (FMD), and etc.). Vaccination does not only prevent but it also protects the animals by improving their immunity to fight off diseases (before an outbreak).
- Quarantine/Physical separation
This should be regarded as one of the most important core functions of government veterinary services. To reduce the risk of disease spread by direct contact, putting up a fence line between the animals and neighbouring livestock is highly recommended (Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2015). Ensure that livestock are not mixed as this increases the risk of exposure and they are not crowded in on kraal or house.
- Direct culling of wildlife population
When an outbreak happens, infected animals should be culled to reduce the risk of further transmission to other livestocks or wildlife.
Tools that help in collecting data and monitoring animals health
The Farm4Trade Farm Management App ensures the unique identification of a herd or each animal, and keeps track of all their individual information related to genealogy, health status and productive situation. Those recordings can vary from weight, vaccines, medical treatment, feed, schedule and assign tasks. The Farm4Trade Farm Management App helps keep all records in order, up-to-date, knowing the farm and promoting increased production.
When a disease/virus breaks out, the farm management tool helps the farmer to enter all the vaccinations and medications administered to individual animals. This section also helps the farmer to enter the costs that are involved, the date it was performed, name of the person that performed the task, the name of drug, how frequent the treatment is done or should be done, the duration, the amount of dose that was given, and the unit of measurement.
Care of domestic and wildlife animals is highly essential especially during a pandemic to ensure increased food production that is more efficient, sustainable and improves food security. However, this should be done while ensuring personal hygiene simultaneously.
Gortazar C., Diez-Delgado I., Barasona J. A., Vicente J., Fuente J. D. L., Boadella M. 2015. The wild side of disease control at the wildlife-lifestock-human interface: a review Veterinary Science. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2014.00027
Shanko K., Kemal J., Kenea D. 2015. A Review on Confronting Zoonoses: The Role of Veterinarian and Physician. Journal of Veterinary Science and Technology. 6, 2. Retrieved from https://www.hilarispublisher.com/open-access/a-review-on-confronting-zoonoses-the-role-of-veterinarian-and-physician-2157-7579.1000221.pdf
Robertson I. D., Irwin P. J., Lymbery A. J., Thompson R. C., 2000. The role of companion animals in the emergence of parasitic zoonoses. International Journal of Parasitol.
Food and Agriculture Organisation. 2015. Sustainable wildlife management and animal health. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4891e.pdf
Brulliard K., 2020. The next pandemic is already coming, unless humans change how we interact with wildlife, scientists say. Retreived from https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2020/04/03/coronavirus-wildlife-environment/