April 25, 2021

“The success of any disease control strategy, including Brucellosis, has to always take into consideration ‘real’ issues on the ground.”

Veterinarian Dr AT Kgasi on a broader and novel approach
By: Dr A.T. Kgasi

With the current recent statistics confirming the outbreak of brucellosis in the country, Dr AT Kgasi, President of the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC), gives a professional point of view in the suggested control or eradication approach to Brucellosis.

Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that spreads from animals to people. In his professional opinion, it is widely known that Brucellosis is still regarded as one of the most important zoonoses in the world and affecting many parts of the world. Not only is the zoonotic aspect of the disease important, but the disease has serious economic effects on the productivity of cattle herds, due to the zoonotic and economic importance of bovine brucellosis, many countries have programmes to control or eradicate the disease from their livestock.

The DAFF Discussion Paper on Brucellosis posits that testing for the disease in South Africa is voluntary and the current brucellosis scheme is only compulsory in high-risk herds or where herds are suspected of being infected.

With the recent outbreaks in South Africa, Dr Kgasi states that the veterinary professional as a scientist with his/her knowledge of epidemiology and/or diagnosis and/or pathogenesis and/or control of the disease should play an important role in the control of diseases such as Brucellosis. The engagements should also not be the sole forte of veterinary doctors but should include meaningful participation of paraveterinarians as well, as they are an integral part of the veterinary team.

The OIE promotes a national veterinary service that includes state veterinarians together with private veterinarians, in the early detection, prevention, and control of animal diseases to ensure animal health, food security, and public health. A united veterinary team that involves collaboration between various members of the veterinary profession is essential. Any disease control strategy that does not adapt or
align itself to ever-changing market conditions is bound to fail. Disease control must be innovative and highly adaptable to each unique environment or situation.

One of the epic failures of disease control strategies is when strategies do not take into consideration the social space within which they have to be implemented. Social issues can make or break disease control strategies. Therefore, social factors are one of the critical success factors in strategy implementation. The control or eradication of important diseases such as Brucellosis requires a broader and novel approach rather than just a monolithic epidemiological and/or laboratory centred approach.2 It also requires harnessing the uniqueness and multi dimensionality of various veterinary professions yet united in a common purpose of controlling or eradicating animal diseases that affect society and animals.

Therefore, the approach in controlling Brucellosis should be broad, inclusive, socially relevant, and highly adaptable. Due to this recent outbreak, the government urges all farmers and stakeholders affected to bring their livestock for dips on vaccines that will take place in the provinces affected, the outbreak has led to the ban of auctions in livestock in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and the North West. For more information on the outbreak and prevention and treatment measure visit http://nahf.co.za/category/diseases/brucellosis/or https://www.savc.org.za 

April 25, 2021

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