Outbreak of zoonotic diseases in Chitral feared

CHITRAL, March 11: The outbreak of zoonotic diseases can be disastrous for a backward area like Chitral but it can be warded off effectively by taking precautionary measures, say experts.

Addressing the concluding session of a three-day workshop, held for journalists under the aegis of Relief International, they said that people in rural areas dealing with cattle and pets were the most vulnerable to zoonotic diseases. “They should be sensitised on scientific lines,” they added.

On the occasion, Mukhtar Ahmed and Dr Waqar Ahmed of Relief International and Dr Hazrat Nabi, executive district officer of agriculture department, highlighted the impending danger of zoonotic diseases in Chitral.

They said that anthrax, avian influenza and lashmenia could pose threat to the area as those were deadly diseases and got out of control after outbreak.

They said that anthrax affected goats and sheep. The disease could transmit to human beings by skin infection, ingestion from carcasses of dead animals and inhalation, they said.

“If inhaled, the spores of anthrax migrate to lymph glands in the chest where they proliferate, spread and produce toxins that often cause death,” the experts said.

They noted with concern that goats and sheep were raised in different valleys of Chitral in large number but farmers were not aware of the diseases and their vulnerability.

Quoting a recent survey of an NGO, the speakers said that almost in every household of the district, chickens were raised but people were ignorant about the diseases they carried and transmitted to human beings.

They warned the hunters of the potential danger of avian influenza, which could transmit to them by migratory birds. “Even a single case in the area can cause outbreak,” they said.

The experts said that shepherds and herdsmen could be affected by lashmenia, a skin disease common in sandy pastures surrounded by forests.

They said that a committee was being formed in the district to take steps in case of outbreak of any zoonotic disease.

Dr Inayatullah Faizi, who was chief guest on the occasion, gave away certificates to the participants of the workshop.

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