Grassroots plan mooted to stamp out zoonotic diseases

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JULY 6. Speakers at the commemoration of World Zoonoses Day organised by the Indian Veterinary Association and the Department of Animal Husbandry today underlined the need for a grassroots-level action plan to stamp out the menace of zoonotic diseases like leptospirosis and rabies rearing their ugly head in many parts of the state.

Inaugurating the event, the Minister for Animal Husbandry, Ms.K.R.Gouri, called for joint efforts involving government departments and local bodies to create awareness about the dangers posed by the diseases. Pointing to the recurrent outbreak of leptospirosis and the failure to control rabies in Kerala, she stressed the need to check unhealthy slaughter houses and the menace posed by stray dogs and rodents.

Ms.Gouri urged for a coordinated effort by the Animal Husbandry and Health departments with support from the local bodies to address the situation. She called for a participatory endeavour at the district- level to root out zoonotic diseases.

The Health Minister Mr.P.Sankaran said garbage accumulation and waterlogging had made Kerala vulnerable to zoonotic diseases. He said the Government had responded fast to the recent outbreak of leptospirosis in some districts by organising awareness campaigns at the local level.

Mr.Sankaran said the eradication of zoonotic diseases depended on the social situation. "Leptospirosis is difficult to control when we have hundreds of poor people working in the fields with no proper safety equipment like gloves or boots," he said.

The Minister said the media had a prominent role to play in creating awareness about the causes for zoonotic diseases. He called for a humane and more responsible approach on the part of medical workers when dealing with zoonotic diseases.

The president of the Indian Veterinary Association Dr.Rabekka Thomas urged the Government to chalk out an action plan to check the spread of zoonotic diseases. She said it was imperative to check unauthorised slaughter houses and insist on preventive vaccination and licence for pets. She called for steps to prevent garbage accumulation and waterlogging and control the stray dog population. Ms.Thomas also highlighted the need to equip diagnostic laboratories to detect zoonotic diseases.

The Director of Health Service Dr.V.K.Rajan, the Secretary, Veterinary Council of India, Dr.Ram Kumar and the Animal Husbandry Director Dr.G.Sudhevan also spoke. A scientific seminar on `challenges in the control of leptospirosis' was also organised.