Ministry: Illegal killing of animals can lead to viral infection

A goat transported for slaughter to the Al Ghusais cattle market.
Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Ahead of Eid Al Adha next month, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) on Wednesday warned of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) which can be spread through the indiscriminate slaughter of ‘sacrificial animals, whether at home or by unauthorized street butchers.

The CCHF virus is classified in the list of priority diseases. In the event of being affected by this virus, it must be reported within 24 hours, so that a rapid intervention of epidemiological surveillance can be undertaken by the competent authorities. Symptoms of Crimean fever include fever, muscle pain, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, back pain, headache, eye inflammation, and sensitivity to light. There may also be early symptoms on the first day of contracting the virus and these include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sore throat.

Dr Hussein Abdel Rahman Al Rand, Undersecretary of the Health Assistants Sector of the Ministry, Health Center and Clinic said: “The Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Abu Dhabi health authorities, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and municipalities across the country are working to maintain human health and safety. Healthy behavior regarding the adoption of hygienic practices when slaughtering sacrificial animals is important to prevent the causes of transmission of common diseases between humans and animals, such as Crimean fever.

Al Rand attributed that the rigorous epidemiological surveillance system of MoHAP and other health authorities for acute CCH fever in recent years, in addition to the accuracy of laboratory diagnosis, has played a major role in reducing the incidence of occurrence.

Dr Fatima Al Attar, director of the International Health Regulations and the Pandemic Bureau, said the fever is spread to humans through a tick bite or direct contact with the blood or tissues of infected animals during or immediately after slaughter.

“The virus is spread from person to person, through direct contact with the person’s blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids,” she added.

Al Attar also stressed the importance of visiting health authorities and informing them of the previous infection and accompanying symptoms, if symptoms appear within two weeks of exposure to the pathogens. She issued a strong warning to residents against violating approved health and safety requirements, in terms of indiscriminate slaughter away from licensed slaughterhouses or through unauthorized street butchers.

“This type of illegal slaughter can lead to the rapid deterioration of sacrificial animals, given the lack of veterinary supervision, high temperatures, exposure to external pollutants and the proliferation of flies, insects and rodents due to the hazardous disposal of slaughter residues. “said Dr Al Attar.

Last year, licensed abattoirs in Dubai charged Dh15 for the slaughter of a sheep or goat, Dh25 for a calf and Dh40 for a cow or camel. Prices should stay in the same range. All slaughter of sacrificial animals in authorized slaughterhouses is carried out by qualified butchers in the presence of veterinarians in order to maintain the highest standards of hygiene

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