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Chapter 10: Animal health and the community

Unit 77: Rabies (mad dog disease)
Unit 78: Tuberculosis (TB)
Unit 79: Hydatid disease
Unit 80: Screwworm
Unit 81: Ringworm
Unit 82: Disposal of dead animals
Unit 83: Disposal of dung
Unit 84: Health of the community

Unit 77: Rabies (mad dog disease)

Rabies is a disease of dogs, foxes, wolves, hyaenas and in some places it is a disease of bats which feed on blood.

The disease is passed to other animals or to people if they are bitten by an animal with rabies. The germs which cause rabies live in the saliva of the sick (rabid) animal.

This is a killer disease but not every dog which bites is infected with rabies.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 What is rabies.
2 Signs of infection with rabies.
3 What to do with rabid (sick) animals.
4 What to do with animals and people who have been bitten by a rabid animal.


This is a disease of the brain which can affect all animals as well as humans. It is caused by germs which are transferred through the bites of rabid (sick) carnivorous animals such as dogs, foxes, wolves, hyaenas and some bloodsucking bats.

When the rabid animal bites another animal or human, the germs which live in its saliva pass into the body through the wound caused by the bite. The germs travel along the nerves to the brain.

The time between the bite and the first appearance of signs that the bitten animal or human has been infected can take from 2 to 10 weeks or more. The time taken depends on the distance of the bite from the brain. If the bite is on the face or head, the bitten animal or human will quickly show signs, but if the bite is on the leg it will take much longer for signs to develop.

General signs of rabies

You should first look for the marks of the bite and discover where and when the animal was bitten. All rabid animals show similar signs in the beginning.

· They change their normal behaviour and behave very strangely.
· They stop eating or drinking.
· There is no change in the body temperature.
· Male animal will try to mate (mount) other animals.

These signs will continue for 3 to 5 days. Then, before it dies, the animal will develop one or the other of two types of the disease:

· The furious (mad) type of the disease makes the animal aggressive and it will bite anything.
· The quiet (dumb) type when the animal is quiet and does not move.

Rabies in the dog

Dogs show either of the two types of rabies.

· A dog with the furious or mad type of the disease will run around and bite anything. The eyes become red and saliva drips from the mouth.

· A dog with the dumb or quiet type of the disease cannot move. It looks as if it has a bone stuck in the mouth and saliva drips from the mouth.

Rabies in the dog lasts about 10 days before the animal dies. If the animal does not die after this length of time then it may not be suffering from rabies.

Rabies in sheep, goats and cattle

Rabies is characterised by the animals becoming restless and excited. They may bite themselves and saliva drips from the mouth. The most important sign in cattle is that the animal bellows (calls) very frequently and with strange sound. The animals will become paralysed and die.

Rabies in the horse and camel

The horse will show the furious (mad) type of the disease. It will kick and bite and show signs similar to colic (see Unit 40). The animal will die after paralysis of the back legs.

In the camel the signs of rabies are similar to those shown by an animal in the rut (see Unit 59).

What to do with a biting dog

Remember that not every dog which bites has rabies.

If the dog belongs to somebody ask the owner about its normal behaviour. If the dog is showing signs of rabies you must inform your veterinary officer immediately. The dog must be shot and if it has bitten anybody, they must be taken to a hospital immediately for vaccination.

What to do with a biting dog

Control of rabies

Dogs in your community can be vaccinated against rabies. You should ask your veterinary service about vaccination against rabies.

If there is an outbreak of rabies, the livestock in your community can be vaccinated too.

Unit 78: Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a chronic infectious disease of humans, livestock and wildlife. It is an important disease in cattle, buffaloes, pigs and camels.

Tuberculosis is present in many countries throughout the world.

The germs causing the disease form tubercles or nodules which are found in many organs and especially in the lungs. As the nodules increase in size the organs cannot function and the animal will die.

In humans TB usually affects the lungs and causes the patient to cough and spit. In bad cases the patient can spit blood. The disease can kill people.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 What is tuberculosis.
2 How tuberculosis is spread.
3 Relationship between tuberculosis of humans and animals.
4 Controlling tuberculosis.
5 The tuberculin test.


Tuberculosis (TB) is a chronic infectious disease (see Unit 6) of the respiratory system. The germs which cause the disease form nodules (tubercles) in the organs of the body. It affects the lymph nodes, intestines, udder, skin and especially the lungs.

Human tuberculosis can infect cattle as well as humans. Cattle tuberculosis can infect humans, cattle, buffalo, pigs and camels.

Methods of infection

Cattle kept housed are more likely to develop TB than those which live out in the open. The yellowish-white sputum from the lungs which is coughed up by the sick animal contains TB germs. This spreads the infection to other animals.

Milk from infected cows can contain TB germs and spreads the disease to calves and humans.

Signs of the disease

Tuberculosis of the lungs causes a harsh, dry cough. After a period of time the animal begins to cough up yellowish-white sputum (coughed up mucous).

The milk from infected animals will be normal in colour at first. After some time the udder can appear swollen even after milking. The fresh milk will soon look bad with a yellowish liquid forming in it. In bad cases only yellowish liquid will come from the udder.

Control of tuberculosis

You will need help from your veterinarian to recognise, to treat and to control tuberculosis.

The tuberculin test is used to check if an animal is infected with TB. The test involves injecting a small amount of solution into the skin of the animals. Only those animals which have TB will show a reaction to the injection. You should ask your veterinarian about the tuberculin test.

It is advisable to boil milk from animals before drinking it. If you slaughter an animal which you suspect may have TB, ask your veterinarian to inspect the meat to see if it is fit to eat. This is because meat from an animal with TB can carry the infection to people who eat it.

Good hygiene, good feeding and good ventilation of any animal houses will prevent the disease from occurring.

Unit 79: Hydatid disease

You may know someone in your community who has been in hospital to have a cyst (water filled bag) removed from their body. This is hydatid disease.

When sheep, goats, cattle, buffalo and camels are killed for meat, cysts, (water filled bags), may be found in the liver, lungs, heart and kidneys. These are the young of a small tapeworm which lives in the gut of the dog.

The cysts are called hydatid cysts and they cause damage to the organs in which they are found. They make the meat unfit to eat.

If a dog, fox or wolf eats the infected organs the tapeworms grow in its gut and produces eggs which can infect more ruminants or even humans.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 What is hydatid disease.
2 What are the problems caused by hydatid disease.
3 How to prevent and control hydatid disease.

Hydatid disease

Dogs can be infected with very many small tapeworms (less than 1 centimetre long) which live in the gut. These produce eggs which are passed in the faeces and can remain alive in the earth and on grass for over a year. Cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats and camels can become infected when they graze on contaminated areas.

Inside the animal the eggs develop into large cysts (fluid filled bags) in the lungs, liver, brain, heart or kidneys. When animals are killed for meat the organs must be examined for these cysts.

Problems caused by hydatid disease

The hydatid cysts damage the organs in which they develop. They weaken the animal but do not normally cause death. They make the meat unfit to eat and can cause loss of a valuable part of the animal which has been killed for food. Animals cannot be treated to kill the cysts.

Hydatid cysts can develop in the same way in humans. Cysts in the lungs can be present for a long time before causing health problems while cysts in the liver, brain and kidney will kill. Treatment involves the removal of the cysts by careful surgery and can mean the loss of a lung or kidney.

Preventing and controlling hydatid disease

Organs in which the cysts occur should not be eaten and should not be thrown away or fed to dogs. All meat and organs which contain cysts should be buried in a deep hole, or burned, to stop dogs or wild animals from eating it.

Animals cannot be treated to kill the cysts but the adult tapeworm in the dog can be killed. All dogs kept in the community should be regularly treated for worms every 3 months, and should not be fed raw meat or allowed to eat waste from animals killed for meat.

If you have to handle dogs, always wash your hands thoroughly after handling. Children especially should be taught to wash their hands after playing either with dogs or in the streets. Vegetables must also be thoroughly washed and cleaned before they are eaten.

Your veterinary officer will advise on hydatid disease in your area. He can advise you on treatment of dogs kept in the community and how to deal with any stray or wild dogs.

Unit 80: Screwworm

This disease is confined to the Americas. It is caused by the maggots of a fly which lays its eggs on wounds in humans and animals.

In these days moving livestock is easier and more common than it used to be. The spread of screwworm to other countries is possible. We should know more about the screwworm because if it spreads it can cause a lot of harm to livestock and people.

Cleaning wounds and daily inspection of livestock will stop infection with screwworm and other maggots.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 The screwworm fly and its maggot.
2 Damage caused by screwworm.
3 When to suspect infection with screwworm.
4 How to treat and control screwworm.

The screwworm fly and maggot

The screwworm fly is nearly 1 centimetre long and is a shiny green in colour with a yellow or orange head and red eyes. The fly can lay from 10 to 400 eggs on a wound. The maggots hatch from the eggs within a day.

The screwworm fly and maggot

Damage caused by the maggots

The screwworm maggots will change a small wound into a large one by burrowing deep into the flesh. The maggots feed on the flesh (meat) of the animal for 3 to 4 days before falling off onto the ground. The maggot, which is more than 1 centimetre long, will change to a fly after one week.

The difference between the screwworm maggots and those of other flies is that the screwworm makes a very deep hole while maggots of other flies live on the surface of wounds. Infection with screwworm can lead to the death of the animal.

When to suspect infection with screwworm

If you find an unusually severe infection with maggots developing in a short time you must take some of the maggots to your veterinarian so that he can send them to a laboratory for checking.

You must do this immediately. Screwworm infections spread quickly. The infected animals must be examined and treated to stop the disease spreading.

Treatment and control

In South America the navel cord of new born animals must be dressed with a screwworm treatment. Castration, dehorning, tail docking, branding and shearing should not be done during the fly's breeding season.

Ask your veterinarian for information about screwworm and inform your community about it. It is important that the people in your community are aware of this disease.

Unit 81: Ringworm

Ringworm is a disease of the hair and skin of most domestic animals throughout the world. It is not a worm but is caused by fungi on the skin.

Round areas (rings) of skin develop a greyish white crust and the hair is lost from the infected area. The infection usually does not cause the animal to itch.

Ringworm also infects humans.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 What is ringworm.
2 How to treat ringworm infection of animals.
3 Controlling infection of animals.
4 Ringworm infection of humans.


Ringworm is caused by a fungus which infects the hair and skin of most domestic animals throughout the world. It causes the skin to become greyish white in colour and very rough. The hair falls out in the infected area. The areas of infection are round (rings) and usually occur on the head and neck. Cattle, especially calves, often suffer from the disease during the cold weather.

The infected areas rarely irritate the animal. The patches of infected skin will become bigger and several areas can join together.


Gently brush off the dry, crusty skin and loose hair from the infected area with soap and water. Tincture of iodine solution should be applied to the area every other day or a mixture of tincture of iodine and glycerine in equal parts can be applied every day (see R 25 Annex 1). Ringworm can be successfully treated but it may take over one month.

Commercial preparations containing an antibiotic called griseofulvin are available for treating ringworm (see R 25 Annex 1). The antibiotic can be applied to the skin or given mixed in the feed. Your veterinary officer will advise you on what treatment is available locally.

Controlling ringworm infection in animals

The disease can be easily spread from from one animal to another through contamination of brushes, ropes and feed or water troughs. It occurs particularly where animals are kept in crowded damp conditions.

Animals should be examined frequently for signs of ringworm. Any animals which develop the disease should be separated and quickly treated. Avoid keeping animals in crowded conditions, give good feed and if possible vitamin supplements.

Ringworm infection of humans

The fungi which infect animals can also infect humans. If you handle infected animals you should keep your fingernails very short and scrub your hands with hot water and soap after handling animals. The infection will form light red areas of skin. Children can often be infected with ringworm and infection on the head will cause loss of the hair. If you or anyone in your community develops ringworm, you should go to your nearest clinic for treatment.

Unit 82: Disposal of dead animals

If an animals dies, other than as a result of being slaughtered for meat, you must dispose of the body (carcass).

The carcass must be properly disposed of to prevent disease from spreading.

Carcasses can be buried in a deep hole or burnt.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 The handling of dead animals.
2 Anthrax and sudden death.
3 Post mortem (opening the body of the dead animal to check it).
4 How to bury animals.
5 Burning dead animals.

Handling dead animals

If you do not know why an animal has died you should always think of the diseases which humans can catch from animals like rabies, anthrax and others. Always take care and carefully wash and disinfect your hands and clothes afterwards.

If you can you should inform your veterinarian about the dead animal as he may want to do a post mortem (after death) examination. When a veterinarian carries out a post mortem examination he will cut open the body to find out what caused it to die. This will help him to treat other animals and stop disease spreading.

Stiffening of the body after death

One to seven hours after it has died an animal's body will become stiff and hard because of chemical changes in it. This happens quickly in hot weather taking longer in cold temperatures.


Anthrax is a very dangerous infectious disease of livestock. You should suspect anthrax if:

· An animal suddenly dies having shown no signs of being sick.

· The animal has had a very high temperature (fever) and bloody diarrhoea, dying 1 to 3 days after becoming sick.

· Dark blood comes out of the nose and anus after death and shows no sign of clotting.

Anthrax can kill people so you must be very careful when you handle the dead animal. You should burn or bury the dead animal immediately. All infected material such as bedding, soil and feed must also be burnt.

The anthrax germs can stay infective in the soil for many years.

You must ask your veterinarian for help and advice immediately in the case of anthrax.


Burying dead animals is better than burning them. Always chose a site away from any river, well or spring. Dig a pit (deep hole) 2 metres deep and wide enough to take the number and size of the dead animals. Put the carcasses into the pit so that they are on their backs with the feet upwards. In the case of animals dying from anthrax you must fence off the area after burying the animals. The anthrax germs can survive in the soil for many years and you must make sure that other animals and people do not go onto the site.


Burning carcasses

In order to properly burn dead animals you must put fire under and over the carcass. The fire must be very hot and big enough to burn all of the body.

To do this first dig a channel in which to put the body. A channel 1 metre long, 30 centimetres wide and 40 centimetres deep will be needed for a cow or horse. Put straw and wood inside the channel and place the carcass on top. Cover the animal with straw and wood before spraying the pile with some kerosene or petrol and lighting it.

Burning carcasses

You can use old tyres to burn carcasses. Place the dead animal on a layer of tyres and cover the body with more tyres. Use kerosene or petrol to start the fire.

Remember that proper disposal of carcasses is essential to prevent disease spreading to other animals and people.

You now know about infectious diseases such as rinderpest, foot and mouth, tuberculosis and anthrax but you should also ask your veterinarian about other infectious diseases in your area.

To be a successful PAHCW you must always ask questions and observe things. This is the way to learn.

Unit 83: Disposal of dung

The droppings or dung of domestic animals must be disposed (got rid of). Infections, e.g. parasites, can spread through dung. It will also be used by various flies as a place to lay their eggs.

Animal dung can be used to fertilise soil for crops, can be dried and used for fires or may be mixed with clay to make building materials.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 How we can use animal dung.
2 Why we need to dispose of dung.
3 How to safely dispose of dung.

What dung can be used for

Animal dung is used for a variety of different things throughout the world:

· Cattle dung is mixed with clay or mud to make bricks or the walls of houses.
· It is dried for fuel for fires.
· It is used as a fertiliser on soil used for growing crops.

Animal dung is an excellent fertiliser for soil and can be used to improve the quality of any soil which is used to produce crops.

Why we need to dispose of dung

Germs which cause disease and the eggs of parasites which infect the animals are present in the dung. Removing dung from where the animals are kept helps to reduce the spread of disease. If animals are kept in stables or other enclosed areas the dung must be removed regularly as it will become the breeding place for germs.

Dung will also be used by flies which will lay their eggs in it and the maggots will feed on the dung. The flies carry germs from the dung and can spread disease. Some of the flies which breed in dung bite animals and suck their blood. These flies can also spread disease, e.g. surra in camels (see Unit 62).

Disposing of dung

Collect the dung into heaps to slowly rot. As it rots the dung produces heat which will kill germs and the eggs of parasites. The heap should be mixed and repiled regularly in order that all the material it contains becomes hot.

When it is well rotted the dung can be used to fertilise agricultural land.

Do not make dung heaps close to houses or too close to stables or other animal housing. Flies attracted to it will become a nuisance. The smell can also be unpleasant. Do not place dung heaps on land which is near to water or may be flooded when the rainy season comes. Dung can contaminate the water and spread disease to animals which drink it. If a lot of animal dung or waste enters a stream or river it can cause the death of fish.

Unit 84: Health of the community

In order to be healthy we need foods such as milk, eggs and meat which we get from animals. The animals we keep must be healthy so that the food we get from them is good for us.

When animals are kept in contact with the community, we should control where they are allowed to go, what they drink and what they eat.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 How to keep animals in the community.
2 Animals and the community's water supply.
3 Handling meat, eggs and milk for the community.

Animals in the community

Traditionally animals may be left to wander around the roads or between the houses in a community. They are allowed to eat whatever they can find and to drink dirty, stagnant water. This is not a good way to keep animals which can easily become sick or stolen when kept like this.

At the same time it is not good for the community as the animals can spread disease to people or spoil the community's water supply. You should talk to the people in your community and advise them of the problems which can come from keeping animals in this way. Advise them on how to house animals and take care of them.

The community's water supply and animals

Your community may get its water supply from a pond, river, spring, tank, well or borehole. You should help to keep this water clean and safe to use.

· Do not allow people to throw dead animals into the water..

· Do not bury animals near the water or allow dung in or near it

· River or stream water for use by the people should be drawn up stream from the village. Boil, filter or disinfect it before use. Let animals drink water further downstream.

· If your water comes from a pond or borehole have special troughs built for the animals to drink from. Do not let animals drink directly from the pond. Animal droppings and urine will get into the water which is bad for the health of people and will spread disease amongst animals.

The community's water supply and animals

Slaughtering animals

Animals to be slaughtered for meat should be healthy. They should be hung during slaughtering and fully bled. The slaughterhouse (abattoir), or the place of slaughtering, should be fenced off and kept clean. Unusable animal organs and waste should be buried in a deep hole. They should not be thrown into a river or given to dogs.

Meat for the community

Meat should be sold separately from other foods. It must be protected from heat, flies and other animals. Hands should be washed before and after handling raw meat. Any surfaces on which meat has been placed and any knives should also be thoroughly cleaned.

Meat must be sold fresh each day or dried, salted or cooked. Dried or salted meat will keep for a long time. Cooked meat should be eaten at once or within a very short time of cooking.

Eating raw or uncooked meat can be very dangerous. Eating infected meat can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and sometimes death.

Eggs and milk

Milk is the one animal product which everyone uses in their food. It can be the source of several diseases (see Unit 22).

Eggs provide a good body-building food. Chicken eggs may be eaten raw when fresh. Duck eggs should always be cooked before they are eaten.

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