Animals cause human diseases — Veterinarian

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food Agriculture

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food Agriculture

Out of 4,198 different diseases in the world, 3,558 are from animals, Dr Bashiru Bio Kikimoto, head of Public Safety at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), has disclosed.

He also revealed that, there were 146 zoonotic diseases from cows, 56 from goats, 28 from cats, 29 from dogs and 41 acquired from grasscutters.

Dr Kikimoto appealed for support for the services of veterinary public health activities to prevent major diseases such as rabies, anthrax, tuberculosis, brucellosis, salmonella and leptospirosis spill over into human population.

In an interview with the Ghanaian Times, Dr Kikimoto indicated that the practice of veterinary medicine had been ongoing for decades in the country, but public’s knowledge of the service was limited.

“Veterinary medicine covers the health and welfare of all animals — domestic, wildlife and aquatic; both large and small are under the care of the veterinarian,” he stressed.

Speaking on one of the neglected diseases – leptospirosis – described as “deadly”, Dr Kikimoto noted that the bacterial infection was notably on sheltered and stray dogs.

Leptospirosis, he explained, was a relatively rare bacterial infection that affected people and animals and could be passed from animals to humans when an unhealed break in the skin came into contact with water or soil where infected animal urine was present.

Dr Kikimoto said symptoms of the disease included fever, chills, coughing, diarrhoea, vomiting, headache, muscle pain, particularly lower back and calves, rashes, red and irritated eyes, and jaundice.

“Most people recover within a week without treatment, but 10 per cent go on to develop severe leptospirosis; severe one may include weil’s, kidney failure, liver, respiratory distress, even meningitis, but the condition does not usually pass from one person to another,” he added.

Dr Kikimoto said the bacteria could enter the body through open wounds, the eyes, or mucous membranes, “and animals that transmit the infection to humans include rats, skunks, opossums, foxes, and raccoons.”

“Unsanitary conditions often observed in dog shelters may predispose the introduction and spread of leptospires among sheltered populations, potentially increasing the chances for the inadvertent adoption of symptomatically infected animals,” he said, adding that “mild leptospirosis is hard to diagnose, because the symptoms can resemble those of flu and other common infections.”

He urged medical practitioners to look out for the bacteria at health facilities as most of the cases of the bacteria had passed on unintentionally.

By Benedicta Gyimaah Folley

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