Transmissible parasitic diseases: In the circle of life, the human and the animals go together hand in hand. Animals enjoy the divine privilege of human like quality of having the soul.
The animal is the only creature that has the credit of sharing the different instinctive aspects of human nature at different levels. In a successful social circle the animals and humans are the two sides of the same coin. The animals support the human on the economical, emotional and psychological levels.
Among all the animals, dog is the only creature that enjoys the status of the best friend of human. A dog can love, care, guard, guide and can do a lot of others. All the multidimensional aspects of a dog’s character can be better analyzed by studying its relationship with the livestock. As a cow enjoys the similarity of nature with dogs, so both have the same signs to show their love, anger and affiliation towards each other.
Livestock farm is the best place to observe their relationship. As the cow shows its love by licking and kissing the dog so is the case with dogs to express the same feelings for the cow in the same way. On the functional level, there are two categories of dogs, the one guards and the other guides the livestock. This different instinctive behavior is the result of their successful selective breeding.
As pups mature to adults, they gain predatory patterns as stalking and lethal crush-bite-kill patterns of true predators. By working with the farm dogs the flexibility of their nature permits them to change their predatory patterns into a working relationship between dog and livestock. There is another side of this friendly relationship between dogs and the livestock.
That is the risk of the transmission of the infectious diseases between dogs that walk or work on farmland and livestock. Here the guards and the guardians can prove themselves dangerous for health, welfare and productivity of the livestock. The same risky function can be performed by the livestock by transferring their infectious diseases to the dogs.
The need of the hour is that the proper awareness should be given to the owners to avoid all risks of spreading any infectious disease that can spoil the healthy relationship between the dogs and the livestock.
The most transmissible parasitic diseases are going to be discussed as under:-
The leading cause of abortion in cattle is Neospora. The infection of Neospora spreads into dogs by eating the placenta of infected cattle. After ingestion of infected placenta, the dispersion of Neospora eggs is done by the dogs through their feces. These infected eggs can survive in the environment up to six months.
In case of pregnant bitches the Neosporosis infection results in form of neurological signs and death of the pups. Due to Neosporosis infection the cattle suffer from abortion, reduced milk yield, impaired growth rates and prolonged calving intervals.
As there is no proper treatment and vaccination against this infection, so the infected cattle cause production loss and are finally culled Neosporosis causes 15% infectious bovine abortions and 90% dairy herd infection.30% dogs also suffer at the hands of this Neosporosis infection worldwide.
Sarcocystosis is a protozoan disease that majorly effects the sheep and dogs. If a dog ingests the infected sheep meat then it will begin to shed Sarcocystosis eggs through its feces which contaminates the pastures, feed and water sources. The ingestion of these eggs infects the muscle tissue of the sheep.
Although there are no proper symptoms of this disease yet in the pregnant sheep it causes abortion, neurological signs and reduced growth rate. Dog owners and sheep Farmers face the high production losses due to this parasite and lack of proper treatment and vaccination. In some parts of the world, the research proves that 39.9% dogs shed Sarcocystosis eggs in their feces.
Usually the intermediate host of most of the tapeworm species are the sheep and on the other hand the dogs are termed as final host. This cycle starts when the dog ingests the infected sheep meat and shed worm eggs in their feces. These eggs contaminate the pasture that is eaten by the sheep that have subsequent infection in form of cyst in any of their organs.
That cyst produces different clinical signs in sheep including neurological disturbance, poor growth rate and occasionally death that causes economic crisis. Tapeworms have no significant effects on dogs but sometimes its segments are present around the anus and cause severe itching.
Intestinal obstruction is also one of the signs of tapeworms found in dogs. Regular use of a suitable wormer can be proved an effective precautionary measure against tapeworms in case of dogs. The alarm of infestation is 50% high in case of sheep.
To conclude it can be said that the circle of nature observes symmetry in it, so far as the relation between dog and livestock is concerned, this symmetry works in both the cases, the profit and the loss. The health of dogs ensures the health of livestock and the health of livestock accompanies the health of dogs.
All transmissible parasitic diseases that are discussed above have an inevitable influence on the economical ratio and productivity rate of the livestock. Awareness of the precautionary measures is the only solution to avoid all these infections.
Authors: Mudassar Mehmood1, Rao Zahid Abbas1, Zohaib Saeed1, Muhammad Tahir1
- Department of Parasitology
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan