Animal Health

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Today people have not only became more aware of animal health issues but also realize the impact they have on human health. Serious outbreak of animal diseases not only has impact on human health but also on the economy.


Food-borne illness

Foodborne illness, (food poisoning) occurs when a person eats food containing pathogenic (illness-producing) bacteria, viruses or parasites.

Some such pathogens affect people within hours, making it difficult to prevent or even identify since some pathogens. For others it may tale weeks to take effect. Often processing of food does not kill the pathogens and sometimes food becomes contaminated during preparation, cooking or storage. To prevent contamination steps must be taken throughout the food processing chain to ensure food is safe

EU Animal Health Strategy 2007-2013

A new legislation on animal healthcare in the European Union is on the cards which would put the onus on prevention rather than cure. Stung by diseases such as Bird Flu, Mad Cow Disease and foot and mouth disease, which have not only caused widespread harm to animals and humans but to the whole economy, a parliamentary report has called for minimal animal transport and more stress on vaccination.

Called "Animal Health Strategy 2007-2013", the proposal also calls for more small size farms as there are more tendencies of animal abuse in larger farms. The Agriculture Committee of the EU has recommended emergency vaccinations as one of the steps to eradicate disease

In September 2007, the European Commission adopted a Communication setting out the EU's animal health strategy for 2007-13 with the aim of putting greater focus on precautionary measures, disease surveillance, controls and research, in order to reduce the incidence of animal disease and minimize the impact of outbreaks. It also stresses the need for an integrated approach in animal health policy-making, inter-linking it with other Community policies.

Preventing BSE in the US

There is neither proper commercial facility to confirm Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a live animal nor is there treatment for cattle affected by BSE. The disease is uniformly fatal. Some special laboratory tests only help confirm that there is abnormal prion protein in brain and spinal cord tissue.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has prohibited the feeding of most mammalian proteins to ruminants as the primary source of transmission of BSE has been shown to be proteins derived from BSE-infected cattle in feed,

The US has also banned import of live ruminants and ruminant products (e.g., fetal bovine serum, meat-and-bone meal, bonemeal, bloodmeal, offal, fats, glands) from countries where BSE has been diagnosed. The United States Department of Agriculture has also prohibited all imports of rendered animal protein products, regardless of species, from BSE-affected countries.

How to Reduce Risks

  • Consumers can take the following steps to reduce their risks:
  • Buy products which have gone through licensed processing facilities.
  • Cook meats at appropriate temperatures.
  • Always keep meat, whether cooked or raw, promptly in refrigerators
  • Cutting boards and utensils should be cleaned using dilute bleach. Do not use the same cutting surface for meat and fruits or vegetables.
  • Wash hands and knives well with hot soapy water before and after handling meat.

Animals in Public Settings

Animals in public settings like the zoo, pose great health risks for humans. Healthy animals harbor multiple human enteric pathogens and a large number of people are likely to be exposed to these organisms. Escherichia coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Cryptosporidium are pathogens commonly linked to infections among humans. Among animals, cattle, sheep, and goats, along with poultry and other domestic and wild animals also are potential sources.

When people pet, touch or are licked by animals they can get contaminated with fecal organisms. Fecal contamination of food, including raw milk, sticky foods (e.g., cotton candy), water and environmental surfaces also account for transmission of diseases.

Often animals’ enteric pathogens infections do not exhibit signs of illness and might shed pathogens intermittently. It is, thus possible for animals which appear healthy to be infected and having the possibility of infecting or contaminating the environment.

Latest Buzz on Animal Health

New techniques keep disease on the back foot

Changing disease threats to UK livestock, as highlighted by the arrival of bluetongue last year, mean research into animal health problems is needed now more than ever, according to the Moredun Foundation's honorary president, John Cameron.

"Present research topics include worm control - still one of the biggest costs to livestock producers - and Johne's disease, widely regarded as the biggest health problem facing the cattle industry," Mr Cameron told delegates at last week's Moredun open day. Read more


  • Prevention crucial to new animal health plan
  • Compendium of Measures To Prevent Disease