Zoonotic diseases are diseases or infections that are passed from animals to humans. They are also known as zoonosis. These diseases are caused by germs, bacteria, or viruses that are carried by animals. They are then passed when humans come in contact with the animals. This could happen by touching the animal or being bitten by the animal or when the animal is eaten raw. Sometimes, these germs may be harmless to the animals but could be very harmful when passed across to humans.
Nigeria is one of the top ten countries with the highest burden of infectious and zoonotic diseases. There are many common zoonotic diseases in Nigeria, and we would be looking at some of them in today’s post.
Rabies is one of the most common zoonotic diseases in Nigeria. According to WHO, in Nigeria, approximately 55,000 people die each year from rabies infection, domestic dogs are responsible for up to 99% rabies virus transmission to humans. It is passed by different animals but the most common of them are dogs. Not all dogs have rabies as it is possible to get anti-rabies shot for them. Rabies is often transmitted when a human is bitten by an animal carrying the virus. The virus affects the nervous system and can be deadly if left untreated. The good thing is there are vaccines for humans that would help treat rabies.
Salmonella can be contracted in various ways, including touching animals that have the virus. One may also get salmonella from eating chicken that is not well cooked. Salmonella is not quite serious and one may recover in less than a week without seeking medical treatment, although it is recommended that one gets treated. Common symptoms of salmonella include diarrhoea, fever, and cramps.
To prevent the disease, make sure you wash your hands well after handling poultry animals like chickens and turkey. Also, make sure to properly cook your meat before eating.
3. Lassa Fever
Lassa fever is one of the most common zoonotic diseases in Nigeria. In fact, it was originally discovered in Nigeria. It is an acute, viral disease transmitted by a type of rat that is common in West Africa, and the disease can be fatal. The virus is carried by the multimammate rat Mastomys natalensis (M. natalensis). The rats excrete the virus in its feces and urine, and often come into contact with foodstuffs. Humans who eat foods touched by these rats can get lassa fever, as well as spread it.
In 8 out of 10 infected people, the infections do not produce significant symptoms; however, there may be a general malaise, headache, and a slight fever. Those who show symptoms experience bleeding in the gums, nose, eyes, and even hearing loss.
Lassa fever can be prevented by killing rats around your home, and not touching infected people. The disease can also be treated.
4. Bird Flu
Bird flu, or avian influenza, is a disease that primarily affects birds. The disease can be passed on to other animals and humans that come in contact with affected birds. When bird flu enters a poultry, it may end up killing the entire bird population if left unchecked. Humans may also be affected by bird flu and it could lead to quite serious complications, including pneumonia, sepsis, and even organ failure.
Anthrax is a serious illness that commonly affects both domestic and wild animals, but it can also be passed to humans through contact with infected animals. One may contract anthrax by eating contaminated meat, especially one that was not well-cooked. Common symptoms of anthrax include skin sores, shock, and vomiting. Anthrax can be treated using antibiotics, but medical help may be needed in severe cases.
Ebola Virus Disease is another animal-borne disease that can be deadly if left untreated. Studies have shown that the earliest Ebola cases were transmitted by animals like bats and monkeys. There have been several Ebola outbreaks in Africa and it has resulted in scores of deaths. It can be transmitted among humans as well through physical contact, such as shaking the hands of someone who has the disease.
The common symptoms of the disease include fever, sore throat, headache, muscle pain, and diarrhoea. It could also lead to more severe symptoms like impaired kidney, internal and external bleeding, and so on. There are many ways to treat Ebola but they require medical intervention. Trying to treat yourself may only worsen the situation.
Other common zoonotic diseases in Nigeria are tuberculosis, brucellosis, cysticercosis, echinococcosis, leishmaniasis, trypanosomiasis toxoplasmosis, taeniasis, scabies, pentastomiasis and African histoplasmosis.