The study was carried out to assess community awareness, perceptions, knowledge and attitude to zoonoses in various livestock production systems in Arusha and Iringa regions in Tanzania. Open-ended questionnaires, focus group discussions and matrix ranking techniques were employed.
Nineteen diseases considered to be zonooses were reported by respondents with rabies, tuberculosis, anthrax and brucellosis ranked as the top four diseases in pastoral, agro-pastoral and smallholder dairy farming systems. Respondents from all villages reported rabies as the major problem in all localities. Eighty percent of respondents thought tuberculosis and anthrax being a problem whereas, 74% thought brucellosis was a major problem. Foot and mouth disease (FMD) was reported to be the major problem by respondents in Masaai pastoralist communities. Of the conditions, 37% were actually not zoonotic eg. malaria, East Coast Fever (ECF), mastitis, allergies, typhoid fever, trachoma and cancer. Fifty three percent of respondents thought that tuberculosis, brucellosis and anthrax were difficult to diagnose clinically in animals.
Rabies in humans was reported by respondents to be characterised by madness, barking, and death whereas, emaciation, coughing, recurrent fever, weakness and adenitis manifested tuberculosis. Clinical signs reported for brucellosis were recurrent fever, joint pains, miscarriages and diarrhoea. Many respondents reported cutaneous lesions, diarrhoea, vomiting and deaths as major clinical features of anthrax in humans. Foot and Mouth Disease in humans was reported to be characterised by fever, flue, diarrhoea, headache, coughing and miscarriage.
Ninety three percent of the respondents thought that 63% of all conditions are transmitted to humans via ingestion of animal products whereas, 37% thought via direct contact, aerosols and bites. All respondents in the maasai pastoral communities thought blood was still consumed in the majority of households. Seventy five percent of respondents from agro-pastoral communities thought that raw blood was still consumed by some communities in the study area. In the smallholder dairy sector, 29% of respondents cooked blood and prepared blood meal for their animals while, 70% of the respondents left unused. Eating cooked meat was common in all farming systems. When milk was plenty boiling prior drinking was not uncommon in pastoral societies. Ninety percent of milking and manure handling performed by women in both pastoral and agro-pastoral communities while all family members were involved in the smallholder dairy households. Slaughtering weak, sick or small ruminants and preparation of full term aborted foetuses for human consumption were done by women in pastoral households.
Low awareness and poor knowledge of zoonoses combined with food consumption habits and poor animal husbandry in pastoral and agro-pastoral communities is likely to expose them to an increased risk of contracting zonooses. Public health promotion on education may be useful in pastoral and agro-pastoral communities to improve awareness of important zoonoses in Tanzania.
Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances (2003) 2 (4) 253-258