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An Emerging Zoonosis of Bovine Tuberculosis-A Neglected Zoonotic Disease (NZD) in Work-Related Occupational Groups in Pakistan


Asad Ullah, Umar Sadique Khattak, Sultan Ayaz and Muhammad Subhan Qureshi

Background: Tuberculosis (TB) is potentially serious infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). Bovine tuberculosis (BTB) is found one of the neglected zoonotic disease (NZD) caused by Mycobacterium bovis has an economic importance and public health significance and appear as a life threatening infection at the human-animal-ecosystem interface in low-resource settings and less developed countries across the world. Employees in different categories of work may be deliberately or unintentionally exposed to biological agents. Lack of information leads to spread of an infection. Globally, insufficient information is available on human TB caused by Mycobacterium bovis in emerging states.

Aims: To specify the incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis due to M. bovis in specific work-related occupational groups such as livestock farm workers, abattoir workers, butchers, veterinarians and veterinary assistants and also to document their awareness, level of knowledge and practices concerning bovine tuberculosis.

Materials and Methods: A study was conducted on livestock farm workers, abattoir workers, butchers, veterinarians and veterinary assistants. Data was obtained on socio-demographic conditions, awareness, level of knowledge and practices about tuberculosis. The sputum samples were also collected from those individuals who were suffering from cough and finally confirmed by PCR. Data was finally analysed statistically using chi squared test.

Results: A total of 390 sputum samples belonging to 800 study participants were collected which consisted of 100 TB patients admitted in different human hospitals in the study area, 200 livestock farm workers, 174 abattoir workers, 294 butchers, 10 veterinarians and 22 veterinary assistants. As a result, 2 out of 100 TB patients (2/100), 3 out of 200 livestock farm workers (3/200) and 3 out of 23 abattoir workers (3/23) were found positive for the presence of M. bovis through PCR technique. A significant association (p<0.05) was found between livestock farm workers and abattoir workers with the prevalence of zoonotic tuberculosis.

The level of knowledge and awareness of livestock farmers, abattoir workers, butchers and veterinary assistants concerning the zoonotic spread of BTB and the signs & symptoms of human TB was very miserable. Majority of the manual workers were unaware about the principles of biosafety and biosecurity and did not use personal protective equipment (PPE) and were considered high risk occupational groups of gaining zoonotic TB.

Conclusions: Bovine tuberculosis is a major public health problem in especially work-related occupational groups in district Peshawar, the capital city of Khyber Pakhthunkhwa, Pakistan. The surveillance, prevention and control programs of this NZD in the province Khyber Pakhthunkhwa, Pakistan is necessary because of the continual unrestricted movement of the animals which might result in an increased spread of BTB to humans.

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