By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: The next time you sacrifice sheep or goat during a
major religious festival or event, make sure that you purchase a
healthy animal, free of viral infections. If possible, get it examined
by a veterinary doctor. Health experts, faced with frequent cases of
Orf virus, have now called for precautionary measures to prevent the
transmission of the disease to humans.
The finest and unblemished animals are generally bought for ritual
sacrifice. Today, however, people mostly buy lambs, which are cheaper
and more plentiful but also highly susceptible to Orf virus
infections. This change in buying practices has created a large market
for possibly infected animals and an associated potential health risk
for persons who butcher and prepare the animals, researchers warn.
Orf virus causes painful skin problems in humans lasting up to eight
weeks. It may even cause death in people with compromised immunity.
Orf virus is endemic to India and several other countries. There are
frequent cases of Orf infection in animals in India, though human
cases go unreported due to poor diagnostic facilities in hospitals for
According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control,
USA, human infections of Orf virus surfaced in France during Bakrid
this year. Similar cases were reported during the festival last year
in the USA, Belgium and Jordan. Human Orf cases are also common during
Passover and Easter observances when some prefer lamb sacrifice.
Infections are also reported in household meat processing or animal
slaughter during non-festival times too.
The CDC has called for a special care while handling sacrificial
animals during major festivals, besides creating awareness among
physicians, slaughterhouse workers and common people participating in
Orf virus is a zoonotic disease and mostly handled by veterinarians.
Many general physicians cannot easily diagnose the cases of human
Clinical and research virologist Dr A Nougairede, who dealt with the
recent five cases of human Orf cases in France during Bakrid 2012,
reported in the latest issue of the CDC’s journal, Emerging
Infectious Diseases, that there should be appropriate measures to
prevent animal-to-human transmission of the virus.
“Persons who handle animals should wear non-permeable gloves, avoid
exposure of open wounds, and meticulously wash skin wounds with soap
and water after handling animals.
Animals with Orf virus lesions should be disposed of in a safe manner.
Physicians, including dermatologists, should be informed of the
potential for Orf virus infection, a heretofore under-diagnosed
disease, and suspected infections should be confirmed by microbiology
laboratories,” he said.
Monday, 24 December 2012
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