Given the Congo virus outbreak that affected hundreds of animals, as well as people, last year, health experts advise caution to people who handle animals as well as to those who visit animal markets. As the virus spreads either through ticks in animal hide or exposure to an infected animal’s blood, applying insect repellent and wearing full-sleeved clothes and gloves is highly recommended.
However, the Congo virus is not the only red flag you should be watching out for.
A common mistake people make is that they buy sacrificial animals after a quick, cursory examination, which is unwise. To ensure that you are buying a healthy animal, you should spend at least 20 to 30 minutes observing it. Animals who are not suffering from any ailments are physically active and have a healthy appetite. Therefore, if you see an animal eating less compared to others, looks lethargic or keeps away from the herd, then a serious underlying condition, typically an infection, may be the cause. While inspecting the animal, keep an eye out for skin lesions, shivering and bloating.
Do not be alarmed if the animal coughs, because animals usually do so in order to clear dust particles from their throats. However, if you notice an animal exhibiting a soft, repetitive cough or an increased breathing rate, remember that this could be a sign of respiratory problems, such as pneumonia or watery lungs, which if left untreated, can prove fatal. An important fact to remember is that animals with a runny nose should immediately raise a red flag; the most common cause is a flu-induced fever.
– Haroon Rasheed
First published in the HEALTH ADVERTISER Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 13, 2015.