Anthrax, Rabies ‘Most Dangerous’ Zoonotic Diseases in Ghana

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Anthrax and Rabies have been named as the most dangerous Zoonotic diseases by health experts in the country.

The announcement was made at the end of a workshop organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, under the theme “one health Zoonotic disease prioritization” in collaboration with Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and USAID.

The workshop brought together experts from the health, agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors as well as other governmental agencies active in the management and study of zoonotic diseases.

The two-day workshop allowed facilitators and voters to deliberate and pick out the most severe diseases based on five specific criteria.

They include the severity of the disease, the prevalence, the economic and social impact and the ability to prevent and control the disease and the effective collaboration among governmental and health professionals.

According to Kristina M. Angel of the CDC “This data will be passed on to the various health-related ministries for proper sensitization ad measure to cure them or minimize their impact on citizens and the country socially and economically.”

The acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Mr. Patrick Ankobiah called for a united effort by ministers to effectively tackle these dangerous diseases transmitted from animals to humans.

In an interview with Citi News on the sidelines of the workshop, Brong Ahafo Regional Director of Veterinary Service, Dr Kenneth Gbeddy, identified the lack of personnel as one of the challenges facing the service.

According to him, the provision of staff to the service would help tackle outbreaks of some of these diseases which affect both humans and animals in the country.

Other zoonotic diseases include Zoonotic Avian Influenza, VHF Ebola, Lassa, YF, Dengue and Trypanosomiasis.

About Rabies

Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system.

It is transmitted via saliva from infected animals – most commonly dogs.

Bats can also be a source of a rabies-like infection. But deaths after exposure to foxes, racoons, jackals and other wild carnivores are rare.

Rabies is sometimes also known as hydrophobia – because of a symptom which can occur where patients have great difficulty swallowing and are unable to quench their thirst.

The incubation period is usually between two and eight weeks – though it can be longer. It affects the central nervous system and initial symptoms include anxiety, headaches and fever.

As it spreads through the central nervous system, progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord develops.

Rabies can only be diagnosed once symptoms have developed.

About Anthrax

Anthrax is caused by the organism Bacillus anthracis.

In some parts of the world, this can be found in cattle or other hoofed mammals.

It is infrequent in western Europe and the US, and is more likely to be found in animals in south and central America, south and east Europe, Asia and Africa.

Those at highest risk in the UK are those who directly handle dead animals, such as abattoir workers and those who work with animal skins who could come into contact with spores of the bacteria.

An infected patient cannot pass on the disease to other people.

What makes anthrax dangerous is that the symptoms are often difficult to distinguish from other, less serious infections.

Lassa outbreak

The conversation on zoonotic diseases has escalated in recent weeks due to fears of an outbreak of Lassa Fever in the country.

Lassa fever, a zoonotic disease, has killed one person so far while ninety-two persons who came in contact with the disease are being monitored by the Ghana Health Service.

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