Latest fashion for some or passion of pet lovers has ultimately increased pet population manifolds in entire Jammu. Many morning walkers can be seen with their dogs enjoying the morning bliss. Visit any locality of Jammu and one can see different breed of dogs costing few thousands to lakhs of rupee. A number of pet shops are there in almost all areas offering pets as well as their accessories. Craze for pets and unconditional love for these has created a new business model- Veterinary Clinics. With almost negligible services offered by state owned Animal Husbandry Department, their own doctors have come up with these vet clinics in every nook and corner of the city. With these clinics come the invisible dangers of contagious diseases which ordinary citizens are not aware of. Except rabies how many of us have heard about Zoonotic Diseases, not many will be able to understand this technical term of medical science and as such unaware of the impending dangers.
A zoonotic disease usually spreads between animals and people caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. Some of these diseases are very common. Zoonotic diseases are an ever-present concern in small animal veterinary practice and are often overlooked. Certain infectious organisms, such as the bacteria Salmonella and Campylobacter are the protozoan disease caused by Giardia which can cause severe gastroenteritis. Roundworms (Toxocara canis) and tapeworms (Echinococcus species) cause liver problems. Direct contact with infected dog’s feces can potentially cause an infection of Toxocara canis in a susceptible person. Zoonotic skin diseases including ringworm, caused by the fungus Microsporum canis and scabies, caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, Cheyletiella and Harvest Mites (Trombicula species) are transmitted relatively easily to people through direct physical contact. All these may affect humans also causing disease ranging from mild and self-limiting to fatal. Rabies can be highly variable in its presentation and while cases are generally classified as showing either the “furious” or “paralytic” form. Risk of transmission to humans follows inoculation of infected saliva or central nervous system (CNS) tissue via a scratch, bite, open wound, or mucous membranes. Leptospirosis is another zoonotic bacterial disease caused by serovars of Leptospira interrogans. Leptospirosis is considered by some to be the most widespread zoonotic disease in the world and can infect a wide range of animals including humans. Dogs with acute leptospirosis are pyrexic, icteric, myalgic, have vomiting, diarrhea and may experience peripheral vascular collapse. The sub acute form is generally manifested as fever, anorexia, vomiting, dehydration, and polydipsia. Severe renal disease with oliguria or anuria can also develop. Humans can be infected via contact with the urine or tissues from an infected animal with mucous membranes or skin lesions. In humans, the clinical signs and severity of disease can be highly variable, ranging from asymptomatic infections to sepsis and death. Headache, myalgia, nausea, and vomiting are common complaints; however, neurologic, respiratory, cardiac, ocular, and gastrointestinal manifestations can also occur in humans.
Methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are major nosocomial pathogens in human hospitals and have been reported in veterinary clinics as well. Clostridium difficile is an anaerobic bacterium that is a recognized cause of diarrheic disease in humans. The spore form of C. difficile is resistant to most commercial disinfectants. Salmonellosis is a systemic or enteric disease caused by serotypes of Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica. Dogs and cats with salmonellosis typically present with fever and diarrhea; however, subclinical infections can occur. Fatal cases of salmonellosis acquired from pets have been reported in infants. Prevention of transmission involves identification and isolation of clinical cases, recognition of animals at higher risk for asymptomatic carriage, and proper personal hygiene. Hand-washing is important after handling any animal, particularly reptiles and diarrheic animals. All surfaces contaminated with feces should be cleaned and disinfected promptly. Food consumption should not be permitted in animal treatment or holding areas. But who cares as dogs coming to these clinics urinate and defecate in the open in whole locality and obviously no disinfectant is used for the lanes or roads. Moreover all liquid waste from these clinics goes to street drains which not only carry contagious diseases but contaminates ground and river water as well.
Avian chlamydiosis is a bacterial disease of birds caused by Chlamydophila psittaci .Infection with C. psittaci is most common in psitticine birds, especially cockatiels and parakeets. Infection with C. psittaci can be transmitted from pet birds to humans. The condition in humans is termed psittacosis or ornithosis, and typically causes influenza-like disease that can progress to severe pneumonia or non respiratory disease. Following a 5 to 14 day incubation period, fever, chills, headache, myalgia and malaise may ensue, accompanied by a nonproductive cough. Infection with Campylobacter jejuni is regarded as one of the most commonly identified causes of bacterial gastroenteritis in humans worldwide. Most C. jejuni infections are food borne; however transmission from pets to humans can occur. In humans, campylobacteriosis causes abdominal discomfort, fever and diarrhea which is sometimes bloody. Spontaneous recovery usually occurs in human cases, but antibiotic therapy aids in shortening the duration of C. jejuni shedding.
There is always risk of aerosol transmission of almost all these disease organism from infected animals to humans. Barrier precautions should be used when handling potentially infected specimens and culture should only be performed by laboratories equipped with Level 3 containment facilities which are absent in our Jammu. The risk of development of a zoonotic disease can be lessened by early recognition of infected animals, proper animal handling, basic bio security precautions and most importantly, personal hygiene. Segregation as such is a must as there will always be danger of the spread of contagious and infectious disease to residents in the neighborhood .Danger is of infection from insects such as flies, fleas, mosquitoes or from animals such as rats or other rodents, cats, dogs, birds, from children or from possible infection of the clothing of nurses, attendants which are unknown carriers of disease.
Now with all these facts explained million dollar question is who permitted these clinics to be opened in residential areas. What are our authorities of Municipal Corporation, Pollution Control Board and Animal Husbandry department doing? Who gave the permission to such clinics, why till date no corrective measures have been taken? Recently only NGT (National Green Tribunal) has exposed the risk to pilgrims of Mata Vaishno Devi due to dung of mules / ponies and as such they are in favour of blanket ban on these mules. If healthy mules are cause of so much risk to pilgrims, how these clinics which are OPD as well as operation theaters for animals ,are safe for other residents of the locality. Not long ago residents of Gandhi Nagar area strongly objected to opening of a vet clinic in their locality went to court and ultimately court ordered the closure of vet clinic. But why residents have to fight on their own to for their rights, why these government agencies remain ineffective and dormant in each and every case? Icing on the cake is these departmental veterinary doctors manage to get posted at places of their choice so that by evening they are back for their clinical activities.
It is a fact that no government evening clinic for animals is available at any place in entire Jammu which is quite unusual keeping in view life of every living being is equally important specifically when border shelling causes so much suffering to the animals. Being a part of one such help group for street dogs, hats off to volunteers among public who help each other to carry these street dogs to vets and at odd hours can be seen asking which vet will be able to attend serious cases immediately. More important is they spend money from their own pockets for treatment, even get these street dogs sterilized and appeal through social media for these pups’ adoption. Believe me to be part of such wonderful group of persons one feels to be part of a different world .But these are individual efforts only and as such government department of animal husbandry shall immediately put up a plan for opening their day time hospitals at evening also and post all the practicing veterinary doctors at these evening clinics with non practicing allowance as incentive. Government can even avail the services of unemployed veterinary doctors on the pattern of RET. This will serve the dual purpose of safeguarding the general public from these diseases as well as providing vet care to suffering animals. There are enough laws to safeguard the interests of humans as well as animals and as such one hopes concerned authorities take the corrective actions as per existing laws on one hand and on the other hand government takes decisive decision to mitigate the sufferings of other living species also.
“Sincerity is a virtue which increases willingness to care for others but not at the cost of your fellow human beings.”