How one health approach controls livestock diseases


What you need to know:

  • Rift valley fever tends to affect young animals more severely than mature animals.
  • In young ones, signs of infection include fever, failure to eat, weakness, diarrhoea and death.

Globally about 75 percent of newly emerging infectious diseases and 60 percent of all human infections are of animal origin.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one or more new infectious diseases have emerged each year since the 1970s.

This has resulted from closer proximity of animals and humans than ever before due to several factors such as: population growth, urbanisation, and advances in transport and animal industry, deforestation and climate change.

This close interaction has led to increased transmission and quick spread of diseases from animals to humans, resulting into epidemics that can potentially overwhelm health systems and devastate economies leading to morbidity and mortality of both animals and humans.

As such scientists from College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-security Makerere University have teamed up with colleagues from International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and International Service for the Acquisition of Agriculture Biotech in Africa in a sensitisation drive using One Health (OH) approach.
Diseases that affect animals, humans.

Prof Clovice Kankya says one of the major challenges facing humans, animals and the environment are zoonotic diseases which must be tackled as One Health issue.

He contends that Uganda is considered a ‘hot spot’ for emerging and re-emerging zoonotic disease outbreaks because of its biological diversity and high population pressure, increasing the humans-animals interaction presenting high chances of zoonotic pathogens disease spill over.

In the recent past, the country has experienced several epidemics including ebola, marburg, plague, avian influenza, rift valley fever which is a viral zoonosis that affects animals and humans.

Rift valley fever tends to affect young animals more severely than mature animals. In young ones, signs of infection include fever, failure to eat, weakness, diarrhoea and death.

In older animals, infection may cause fever, discharge from nose, weakness, vomiting, decreased milk production and abortion.

The majority of human infections result from contact with the blood or organs of infected animals. Human infections have also resulted from the bites of infected mosquitoes.

Yellow fever is transmitted through bites of Aedes mosquitoes to humans and animals.
Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected primates (human or non-human) and then can transmit the virus to other primates.

Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever virus is transmitted to people from ticks that are harboured by animals. Human-to-human transmission can occur resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.

In addition, a number of zoonotic diseases such as brucellosis which people can contract why they get in contact with infected animals, their products contaminated with bacteria Animals that are most commonly infected include sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, and dogs, among others.

Rabies is caused by the virus RABV in humans and animals specifically dogs. It moves around the body through the nerves causing nerve damage.

Trypanosomiasis also known as sleeping sickness is a vector-borne parasitic disease. It is caused by protozoans of the genus Trypanosoma and transmitted to humans by bites of tsetse flies which acquire the virus from infected humans and animals.

Zoonotic diseases 
In a recent report by science experts in the Journals Epidemiology and Global Health in the National Library of Medicine, it is stated that recently, Uganda experienced an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather variability and epidemics ranging from vector borne to other zoonotic disease outbreaks.

A case in point is rift valley fever which is usually triggered by sustained heavy rains was for the first time reported in Uganda in the Southwestern part of the country in 2016.

Uganda also has one of the fastest population growth globally which has resulted in land degradation, wildlife poaching, loss of biodiversity and increasingly variable climate patterns.

This promotes close human interactions with animals that carry these diseases. In addition, there is a mounting problem of antimicrobial resistance.
The experts contend that Anti-Microbial Resistance is a very complex problem than any other infectious threat, posing a significant challenge to global health and animal production with significant economic consequences.

About one health  
Scientists define One Health as an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimise the health of people, animals and ecosystems.

It recognises that the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants and the wider environment are closely linked and inter-dependent.