Notes to broadcasters
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Some livestock diseases can infect both people and animals. These are called ‘zoonotic’ diseases. Two examples are Rift Valley fever and ebola. They have become increasingly prevalent, with devastating effects. Other examples of zoonotic diseases are rabies, anthrax, trypanosomosis, and brucellosis. These diseases present a public health challenge and pose serious economic risks to farmers who depend on livestock to make a living. Farmers need to be aware of these risks and to play a role in control and prevention by using proper hygienic practices when handling livestock and pets.
Broadcasters can play an important role in the control of these diseases by promoting communication and cooperation among public health officials, medical professionals and veterinarians.
If you’re feeling sick and wondering why, perhaps you should consider the animals around you. I have two guests here today who tell me that there are more than 200 diseases that can be passed from animals to humans!
Good morning, _________(Guest 1) and ________(Guest 2).
: Good morning. Yes, that’s right. From Kiewiet the parrot to Daisy the cow, almost every animal is capable of passing some type of disease or sickness to humans. Veterinarians who teach on the subject say that ailments range from nearly harmless to downright deadly.
: The technical term for diseases that can pass from animals to humans is zoonosis. As I mentioned, there are more than 200 of these diseases, but most of them are fairly rare. However, there are a few dozen that are very common and can even be killers. In a moment we will give you an example of one of these diseases that can be passed from animals to humans.
SHORT MUSICAL BREAK (10 seconds)
One of the diseases that can be passed from cattle, sheep, goats and sometimes horses, to humans is called ‘brucellosis’. Many countries are dealing with this problem. People can catch the disease from infected tissue of affected animals if they don’t maintain hygienic standards. Or if they drink impure, raw milk from an infected animal. When humans get this disease it is called Undulant Fever. It can cause a high fever and affect bone development. So brucellosis is one disease that animals can pass to humans.
What other diseases are like this?
: Dogs, pigs, cows, rats and wild animals can pass on a disease called ‘leptospirosis’. Leptospirosis gets passed on when animals urinate in surface water such as ponds, tanks or even small puddles. When humans are exposed to the contaminated water, they get sick. It affects people’s liver and kidneys, and can become very serious.
It sounds terrible. Anything else?
: Rabies is another disease that can be transferred from animals to humans. Rabies is spread through the saliva of rabid animals, often by biting. Certain animals are known to spread rabies, such as dogs and bats. This dreaded disease has been around for hundreds of years. The best advice: Use your common sense and stay away from animals that are exhibiting unusual behaviour. Use extreme caution with wild animals. And if you see a bat on the ground or a wall, leave it alone. Remember too, that rabies is transmitted by animal bites.
: What about the reverse? Can animals get diseases from humans?
: Yes, almost all these diseases can be passed both ways, but that happens only in a few cases. One good example is tuberculosis. It can be passed both ways – from animals to humans and vice versa.
SHORT MUSICAL BREAK (5 seconds)
HOLD MUSIC UNDER HOST
) My friends, we’ve heard about some harmful diseases today. But my guests tell me that there are ways to prevent the spread of these diseases.(turning to Guest 1
) Isn’t that right?
: Yes, if you use common sense, you should not have much to worry about when it comes to animal diseases. Wash your hands after handling animals and pets, treat bites effectively, and keep animal pens clean. All of these things can go a very long way in easing any worries a farmer might have.
Adapted from a script by Christo van Eerden, Station Manager, Good News Community Radio, PO Box 33, Tongaat 4341, Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, South Africa.Good News Community Radio is a member station of the National Community Radio Forum’s (NCRF) Food Security Network.
Reviewed by Terry S. Wollen, DVM, Coordinator of Animal Health, Heifer International. Field Address: Heifer Nepal, Arun Tole, Satdobato, Lalitpur 15 Nepal.