Minister for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry K.P. Mohanan inaugurated a State-level commemoration of World Zoonoses Day in the city on Wednesday.
The programme was held under the aegis of the Kerala State Veterinary Council, Indian Veterinary Association (IVA) and Department of Animal Husbandry.
A State-level seminar on ‘Human perspective and management of zoonoses,' distribution of prizes for various competitions held as part of community participation by children, and release of Journal of Indian Veterinary Association (JIVA) and IVA websites were held at the programme.
Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and humans. India being an agricultural country, more than 80 per cent of the rural population lives in close association with animals. Thus, the chances of transmission of such diseases are high. More than 60 per cent of newly identified infectious agents affecting humans are zoonotic infections, the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) reports show. What is alarming is that India, with 1.4 million cases reported across 13 States and 10 districts, is becoming a hot spot for zoonotic diseases.
With 20 cases of H1N1infections registered in the State recently, the need to create effective awareness among the public about preventive care against zoonotic diseases gains importance.
“While most of the people are aware of diseases such as rabies, they are less aware of emerging zoonotic diseases that can have a potentially serious impact on human health. Thus, prevalence of diseases such as Avian influenza, Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE) and the Nipah virus are not well-mapped out. Also people are not aware of the re-emergence of certain zoonotic diseases,” K. Vijaykumar, Head of Community Medicine, Government Medical College here, said.
The need for effective surveillance and research to identify such cases remained in the forefront of control and prevention of zoonotic diseases. The WHO had suggested early warning and response systems for identification of major zoonotic diseases. However, the State-wide implementation of such systems was yet to reach its full potential, he said.
B. Sunil, Associate Professor, Department of Veterinary Public Health, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (COVAS), said at the seminar that a suggestive model such as the collaboration between various research institutes and coordination between the departments of health, animal husbandry and environment was an effective method for the early identification, prevention, and control of zoonotic diseases. One could not ignore the role of veterinarians and the importance of community participation for control and prevention of such diseases, he added.