Increasing Public Awareness on World Zoonoses Day: Not All Animal Diseases Are Zoonotic

New Delhi : To mark World Zoonoses Day, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying has organized an interactive session chaired by the Secretary of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (AHD) on the eve of World Zoonoses Day.

Zoonoses are infectious diseases that can transfer between animals and humans, such as rabies, anthrax, influenza (H1N1 and H5N1), Nipah, COVID-19, brucellosis, and tuberculosis. These diseases are caused by various pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi.

However, not all animal diseases are zoonotic. Many diseases affect livestock without posing a risk to human health. These non-zoonotic diseases are species-specific and cannot infect humans. Examples include Foot & Mouth Disease, PPR, Lumpy Skin Disease, Classical Swine Fever, and Ranikhet Disease. Understanding which diseases are zoonotic is crucial for effective public health strategies and preventing unnecessary fear and stigmatization of animals.

India boasts the largest livestock population, with 536 million livestock and 851 million poultry, accounting for approximately 11% and 18% of the global livestock and poultry population, respectively. Additionally, India is the largest producer of milk and the second-largest producer of eggs globally.

Recently, African Swine Fever (ASF) was detected in Madakkatharan Panchayath, Thrissur district, Kerala. ASF was first reported in India in May 2020 in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Since then, the disease has spread to around 24 States/UTs in the country. The Department formulated the National Action Plan for Control of ASF in 2020. For the current outbreak, Rapid Response Teams have been constituted by the State AH Department, and culling of pigs within a 1 km radius of the epicenter was carried out on July 5, 2024. A total of 310 pigs were culled and disposed of by deep burial. Further surveillance as per the action plan is to be carried out within a 10 km radius of the epicenter. It is important to note that ASF is not zoonotic and cannot spread to humans. Currently, there are no vaccines for ASF.

Prevention and control of zoonotic diseases rely on vaccination, good hygiene, animal husbandry practices, and vector control. Collaborative efforts through the One Health approach, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health, are crucial. Collaboration among veterinarians, medical professionals, and environmental scientists is essential for addressing zoonotic diseases comprehensively.

To mitigate the risk of zoonotic diseases, the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying (DAHD) has launched a nationwide campaign for Brucella vaccination of bovine calves under NADCP and undertaken Rabies Vaccination under ASCAD. The department is also implementing a comprehensive nationwide surveillance plan for economically important animal diseases. Additionally, under the One Health approach, the National Joint Outbreak Response Team (NJORT) has been established, comprising experts from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, ICMR, Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, ICAR, and Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change. This team has been actively involved in collaborative outbreak investigations of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

Raising awareness aids in early detection, prevention, and control, ultimately protecting public health. Educating the public about the distinction between zoonotic and non-zoonotic diseases helps reduce unwarranted fear and promotes a more informed approach to animal health and safety.

While zoonotic diseases pose significant public health risks, it is equally important to recognize that many livestock diseases are non-zoonotic and do not affect human health. By understanding these differences and focusing on appropriate disease management practices, we can ensure the health of both animals and humans, contributing to a safer and more secure environment for all.

World Zoonoses Day is celebrated in honour of Louis Pasteur, who administered the first successful rabies vaccine, a zoonotic disease, on July 6, 1885. This day is dedicated to raising awareness about zoonoses—diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans—and promoting preventive and control measures.


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