By Abhimanyu Singh Chauhan
As part of data collection during site visits, the project team gets an opportunity to interact informally with farmers, community members, local informal caregivers and medical practitioners from the human/animal/veterinary side. In peri urban settings, the most common disease that is reported by veterinarians and dairy farmers is brucellosis, so when we had a chance to catch up with an experienced clinician from Ludhiana, we wanted to tap into his expertise about the disease.
Dr. Daljit Singh Pooni, Chief Medical Officer, Punjab Agriculture University Hospital, Ludhiana, provided some valuable must do’s on preventing and managing brucella, based on his clinical experience. In the informal interaction, Dr. Pooni attributed this high prevalence of brucellosis to ignorance and a casual attitude towards biosafety precautions like using appropriate personal protective equipment. According to him, it is also not uncommon to find animal fetuses disposed off by handlers in open spaces.
Dr. Pooni pointed out that his hospital gets a large number of cases that are provisionally diagnosed to be brucellosis or tuberculosis and these are duly referred for further diagnostic investigations. As part of hospital protocols, he listed the five things that animal handlers and care givers (both human and animals) must do to arrest the spread of zoonotic infections are:
With more than 200 zoonotic infections that can be transmitted from animals to human beings, developing countries like India need to be much more conscious of good health and hygiene practices. Those involved with the health care of animals such as animal handlers, veterinarians and para-veterinarians, members of the farming community and people consuming unpasteurised or raw milk, poorly cooked meat and those who may be exposed to saliva, blood or other bodily fluids of sick animals are especially at risk of getting infected with diseases like bovine tuberculosis, rabies and neurocysterosis, amongst others.
Addressing concerns around awareness and lack of capacity, the PERIMILK Study team is now embarking on its intervention phase where it will be undertaking training of trainers and training of farmers with a view to inculcate in them good farming practices that are scalable and sustainable.
Abhimanyu Singh Chauhan is a Qualitative Researcher with PHFI/RCZI and is based out of New Delhi