Risk practices for bovine tuberculosis transmission to cattle and livestock farming communities living at wildlife-livestock-human interface in northern KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Petronillah Rudo Sichewo, Catiane Vander Kelen, Severine Thys, Anita Luise Michel

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    Abstract

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    Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a respiratory disease of cattle that is transmitted to other animals as well as humans (zoonotic TB) through direct contact with infected animals, and consumption of contaminated food (animal products) or water. The study explains the complexities of human-animal relations, reflects on how people understand and conceptualize risk of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in an endemic area considering the economic value of livestock keeping as well as social and cultural practices of importance to the community. The results of this study identified socio-cultural practices that involved consumption of raw or undercooked animal products and handling of infected animal products during animal slaughter as major risky practices for bTB transmission to people. Introduction of animals into a herd without bTB testing for socio-cultural purposes and sharing of resources amongst the communal herd and with wildlife were identified as risky practices for bTB transmission to cattle. The findings of this study illustrate the need for a One Health strategy that develops appropriate public health policy and related education campaigns for the community as control of zoonotic TB in people depends on the successful control of bovine TB in cattle.

    Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a disease of cattle that is transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal or ingestion of contaminated food or water. This study seeks to explore the local knowledge on bTB, obtain information on social and cultural practices regarding risk of bTB transmission to cattle and humans (zoonotic TB) in a traditional livestock farming community with a history of bTB diagnosis in cattle and wildlife. Information was collected using a qualitative approach of Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) targeting household members of livestock farmers that owned bTB tested herds. We conducted fourteen FGDs (150 individuals) across four dip tanks that included the following categories of participants from cattle owning households: head of households, herdsmen, dip tank committee members and women. The qualitative data was managed using NVivo Version 12 Pro software. Social and cultural practices were identified as major risky practices for bTB transmission to people, such as the consumption of undercooked meat, consumption of soured /raw milk and lack of protective measures during slaughtering of cattle. The acceptance of animals into a herd without bTB pre-movement testing following traditional practices (e.g. lobola, 'bride price', the temporary introduction of a bull for 'breeding'), the sharing of grazing and watering points amongst the herds and with wildlife were identified as risky practices for M. bovis infection transmission to cattle. Overall, knowledge of bTB in cattle and modes of transmission to people and livestock was found to be high. However, the community was still involved in risky practices that expose people and cattle to bovine TB. An inter-disciplinary 'One Health' approach that engages the community is recommended, to provide locally relevant interventions that allows the community to keep their traditional practices and socio-economic systems whilst avoiding disease transmission to cattle and people.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0007618
    JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
    Volume14
    Issue number3
    Number of pages18
    ISSN1935-2735
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Keywords

    • MYCOBACTERIUM-BOVIS
    • PUBLIC-HEALTH
    • KAFUE BASIN
    • INFECTION
    • ARUSHA
    • AREAS

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