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Agriculture Opinion South Africa

Can the next pandemic come from your livestock?

According to a study by the United Nations (UN), over 60% of diseases affecting humans originated from animals. Diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans are also known as zoonotic or zoonosis. These transmissions can occur in various ways including contact with sick animals or the consumption of infected animals.
Pixabay via
Pixabay via Pexels

To add onto this, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) conducted a research focusing on how pigs contributed to the H1N1pandemic in 2009, the organization classified pigs as intermediate hosts for the generation of pandemic influenza virus.

It therefore, is very critical that farmers take note of such findings, not only those in pig farming but livestock farming in general. One of the qualities that make for a good farmer is the health quality of their livestock.

As a biosecurity specialist, the main objective of my line of work is to prevent new diseases from entering and spreading on a farm or production unit by applying the right management practices. These greatly reduce the risk of zoonotic diseases getting carried over to the human population and possibly causing a pandemic as seen currently with Covid-19.

Minimising disease outbreaks

What farmers cannot do, is change the pathogen that exist within an environment. There are however, various guidelines in place for farmers to use to minimise disease outbreaks for both humans and animals.

This can be done by keeping new animals away from existing herd, to help monitor and keep valuable livestock away from those with an unknown health status. The quarantine period may be longer, but a minimum of 14 days is prescribed.

It is also crucial to check fences regularly to ensure that they are in good condition. This is because any animal entering the farm poses a threat to livestock and may be a carrier of zoonotic diseases.

Preventing contaminations

Farmers may also need to ensure that feed is bought only from registered producers. They must inspect purchased feed after delivery and look for signs of contamination. Stored feed should be kept out of reach of livestock, mice, rats, and other wild animals to prevent contamination. Farmers also need to ensure that the animals have good quality water that is suitable for their livestock.

There is great need for the disinfection of farms and the use of products that cater for all your disinfection purposes, whether it be disinfection against viral, bacterial or fungal diseases. Reach out to reputable animal health product suppliers like Bupo Animal Health to find products that can be suitable for your farm, employees and livestock.

Lastly, ensuring that livestock is vaccinated against diseases prevalent in their relative areas is more affordable than curing diseases. Another thing to consider is ensuring that all staff working on the farm and animals are immunised against zoonotic diseases that present transmission risks.

About Elizna Erasmus

Elizna Erasmus is Biodiversity Specialist at Bupo Animal Health.
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