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Is Your Livestock at Risk? Don't Miss These Essential Tips for Managing Emerging Animal Diseases

Emerging pathogens are not unique to people only. Animals, especially livestock, are susceptible to diseases, and this has an enormous impact on not only animal health and the global food supply but also on the worldwide economy and human health.

Aarushi Chadha
The risk of animal diseases is likely to increase in India due to the increased demand for animal protein and products by the ever-growing population

As the human population continues to grow, farmers and major corporations have no choice but to intensify their efforts to feed the growing human population. However, increasing the production of animal products, meat, and dairy will lead to an increase in the frequency of disease outbreaks in livestock.

Outbreaks of diseases not only reduce herd productivity but can hurt the local and world economies as corporations and animal handlers have no choice but to cull their produce to control outbreaks. This can even negatively impact trade and transport industries. These diseases can also be a threat to human health.

Possible reasons for the increase in emerging viral infections

According to several scientific studies conducted on the emergence of new diseases, viral, human, and environmental factors play a huge role. For instance, viruses have the ability to quickly adapt to their environment when it starts to resist its spread in order to survive and expand their host range.

Human factors play a huge role in the emergence of diseases in animals. An increase in the population of humans, unplanned urbanization, human migration to fringe areas, deforestation, changes to agricultural practices, and animal trade has a great impact on animal diseases. Environmental factors such as extreme climatic conditions, as well as global warming affects the spread and emergence of disease.

The risk of animal diseases is likely to increase in India due to the increased demand for animal protein and products by the ever-growing population. Therefore, in order to control the outbreak of new animal diseases without any known treatment or prevention method, India must strengthen its veterinary services.

This is done by investing in rapid diagnostic facilities for emerging and exotic diseases, effective disease management approach and biosecurity, and awareness among the farmers and livestock owners about the high-threat emerging animal diseases. It is also important to study the role of biological and mechanical vectors, the speed of the spread of disease, communication, and management, and the nature of the virus. 

Ways to Prevent and Manage the Outbreak of Emerging Diseases

Preventing diseases from entering and spreading livestock populations is the most efficient and cost-effective way of managing disease. Let us look at some animal welfare practices that can aid in disease prevention-

  • Creating a comprehensive animal health program that includes regular check-ups and keeping the animals up to date with their vaccinations, along with a strategy to deal with sick animals and their confinement.

  • Always purchase new animals from a reliable source. Make sure that they have been vaccinated, monitor for diseases, and isolate them on your farm for at least 3 weeks to a month before introducing them to the existing flock or herd. Also, ensure that the new animal is purchased from a place that is not prone to disease outbreaks. Ask for proof of vaccination, along with a history of medication and disease problems.

  • Clean the feeding tube and water source regularly to remove build-up. Make sure that the animals’ feeding area is away from their bathing and defecation area.

  • Monitor their sleep patterns, eating habits, water drinking habits, and their defecation habits to ensure that the animal is not showing any signs of disease.

  • When a diseased animal passes away, do not drag them. Instead, pick them up and dispose of them by burying them in a deep pit or cremating them.

  • Limit the movement of diseased animals and isolate them from the rest of the healthy group.

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