OPINION

Everyone’s effort is needed in fight against zoonotic diseases

In Summary
  • Among the emerging infectious diseases over 75 per cent are zoonotic.
  • There are many zoonotic diseases that continue to pose a threat to the population and thus their control and prevention is crucial.
County director of veterinary service Wilson Serem gives a dog an an anti-rabies injection when the vaccination drive began in Chepalungu on Monday.
RABIES: County director of veterinary service Wilson Serem gives a dog an an anti-rabies injection when the vaccination drive began in Chepalungu on Monday.
Image: FELIX KIPKEMOI

The world recently marked Zoonosis Day on July 6  which is used to raise awareness on diseases that can spread between animals and people.

It also acknowledges global efforts that have been put in place to reduce the threats of zoonotic diseases in the world.

The day was specifically chosen to mark  the first vaccination against a zoonotic disease was done against rabies  by Louis Pasteur on  1885.

The World Zoonoses Day commemorates the work of French biologist Louis Pasteur; on 6 July 1885, Pasteur successfully administered the first vaccine against rabies, a zoonotic disease.

There are many zoonotic diseases that continue to pose a threat to the population and thus their control and prevention is crucial.

Rabies, anthrax, brucellosis among others are some of the many diseases in the list and among the emerging infectious diseases over 75 per cent are zoonotic.

Prevention and control of these diseases need the effort of everybody and thus the concept of multidisciplinary approach of one health.

In many instances only stakeholders in the human and animal health sectors are involved in response and surveillance of these diseases but efforts of others is also needed.

In Kenya zoonotic diseases are still posing a serious challenge to the population. Outbreaks of rabies and anthrax are still reported every other time in different parts of the country.

The country has however made tremendous steps in combating these challenge and this began by the setting up of zoonotic disease unit which was necessitated by many outbreaks between 2006 and 2010.

There are other stakeholders too such as Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya Wildlife Service, ministries of health and agriculture, livestock and fisheries, county governments, non-governmental organizations among others. 

Partnerships are important in setting up strategies for prevention, control and response to zoonotic outbreaks since it complements the efforts of each team.

As one of the non-governmental organization operating in eight counties in Kenya, Kenya Network of Dissemination of Agricultural Technology is proud to have been among the partners that contribute to the control of zoonotic diseases in counties it operates in.

The organization has been continually raising awareness about rabies which is a deadly disease that claims over 60000 people annually around the globe and majority being 95 per cent from Africa and Asia. In Kenya it is estimated that it kills 2000 people annually.

KENDAT last year partnered with county governments of Embu and Nairobi to conduct vaccination against rabies.

In the case of Nairobi, it was a response since there was an outbreak reported that involved a donkey and it had bitten the owner. Together with the department of veterinary services in the county vaccinations were organized in all parts of Kasarani that helped contain the outbreak.

Over 3000 animals among them donkeys, cats and dogs were vaccinated and the public sensitized about the disease.

We also celebrate the effort of every stakeholder involved in the fight against these diseases as we call for more partnership to ensure both human and animal population are safe from them.

The research scientists, animal health practitioners, medics, statisticians and many others your efforts to have a safe world from these deadly diseases will be rewarded by the many lives you will have saved. 

It is also important to highlight the challenges that are still there in the fight against these diseases in Kenya. Lack of resources is the major challenge in the country and research on these diseases require a lot of money for surveillance and laboratory work among others.

It has also been reported that since the start of devolution some reporting were affected especially since the disease surveillance have not been organized nationally. Strengthening of teams at the county level to carry out surveillance, monitoring and reporting and to zoonotic diseases is important.

We hope we will have a better world without some of these diseases in the years to come if we work as a team. 

Dr Ronald Sang is a veterinary surgeon at Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies [ KENDAT]