Brucella Free Villages: India says raw (milk) is risky

Neetu Chandra Sharma of DNA India reports the government has geared up following new outbreaks down South India. In a bid to curb cases of Brucellosis, a bacterial disease affecting cattle like cow and buffalo and causing undulant fever in humans, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology has come up with a pilot project called “Brucella Free Villages”.

brucellosis-cattle-indiaBrucellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Brucella. Brucellosis is also an important zoonotic disease of worldwide importance; people acquire the infection by consuming unpasteurized milk and other dairy products, and by coming in contact with the contaminated animal secretions and tissues.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), brucellosis is transmitted to humans from animals through direct contact with infected materials like afterbirth or indirectly by ingestion of animal products and by inhalation of airborne agents. Consumption of raw milk and cheese made from raw milk is the major source of infection in humans.

In humans, brucellosis can cause range of symptoms that are similar to the flu and may include fever, sweats, headache, back pain and physical weakness. Severe infections of the central nervous system or lining of the heart may also occur.

Doctors say that often brucellosis is diagnosed after ruling out all other fevers such as those caused by malaria, typhoid, dengue etc. Therefore, the disease is under reported and many medical professionals are not even aware of the problem. It is estimated that the disease causes economic losses of about Rs 28,000 crores.

“There is an urgent need for addressing this important issue of not only livestock health and production, but also public health. India is the world’s largest milk producer and hosts around 20 per cent of the world’s livestock population,” said Sudarshan Bhagat, Minister of State, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.