UN declares World Bee Day… among others

On December 21, 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) welcomed the UN’s decision to create a “World Bee Day” among other important resolutions. In the same tone, the United Nations also chose to celebrate a decade on family farming, a day to promote the awareness of the need to combat illegal fishing, and resolved to declare international years for camelids and artisanal fisheries and aquaculture.

From now on, May 20 will mark World Bee Day.

And 2019 will mark the beginning of the UN Decade of Family Farming, drawing more attention to the people who produce more than 80% of the world’s food but whose own members, paradoxically, are often the most vulnerable to hunger.

2024, meanwhile, will be the International Year of Camelids.

The UN General Assembly on Wednesday approved three new resolutions that task FAO with leading organizational and information-sharing roles. Not only do pollinators, smallholders and camelids contribute directly to food security, but they are key levers for conserving biodiversity, another cornerstone of the Sustainable Development Goals. Earlier this month, the General Assembly had also proclaimed an international day to celebrate the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and an international year to promote artisanal fisheries and aquaculture.

World Bee Day

Bees and other pollinators – including butterflies, bats and hummingbirds – allow many plants, including many food crops, to reproduce.

May 20 has now been chosen for the annual day as it is the birthday of Anton Janša, who in the 18th century pioneered modern beekeeping techniques in his native Slovenia – which led the push for the celebration –  and praised the animal for its ability to work so hard while needing so little attention.

The honeybee in particular has been a workhorse, not only as a pollinator able to visit around 7,000 flowers a day but also as a provider of honey – coveted for millennia as food and medicine – and for offering livelihood opportunities requiring little capital or land ownership. FAO has included training in beekeeping in multiple rural development projects from Azerbaijan to Niger and is leading the assembly of a data base on pollination services around the world. Today, pollinators have an additional contribution to make to food security as they not only foster plant life but serve as sentinels for emergent environmental risks, signalling the health of local ecosystems. Invasive insects, pesticides, land-use change and monocropping practices that may reduce available nutrients all pose threats to bee colonies.

So, who will be celebrating the World Bee Day with us next May 20?

 

Adapted from FAO World Bee Day

National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) receives new Governing Board

The President of Nigeria and Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces, H.E, President Muhammadu Buhari has on Thursday approved the appointment of a new governing Board for the National Veterinary Research Institute,(NVRI), Vom in Plateau state. This was stated in a letter signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.

The board is chaired by Mr. Marlin Daniel and has other board members which include, Dr. Grace Chida, Mrs Jumoke Okunlola, Jide Owoka, Mr. Adebayo Ojora, Hon. Stan Dara, Amina Dalhat, Sale Kusani Wudil, Mahe Gobir,Pauline Kaigama, Akiode O. Olubunmi, Hon. Ibrahim Tashi and Alhaji Mobo Kassim.

Mr. Marlin Daniel the board chairman, is a Lawyer by profession and a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in Bayelsa State. Also, he used to be a former Senior Special Assistant serving under President Goodluck Jonathan and as a then-member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party(PDP).

According to the SGF, the appointments will take immediate effect and the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has been advised to inaugurate the boards after letters of appointment have been issued.

Castration in Dogs and Cats (1)

Castration is the surgical removal of a male animal’s testicles. It is also known as neutering, sterilisation, “fixing”, desexingsnipping or by its veterinary names – orchiectomy and gonadectomy. During the procedure, each of the animal’s testes and testicular epididymis are removed, along with sections of testicular blood vessels and spermatic ducts (vas deferens or ductus deferens). The parts removed are responsible for sperm production, sperm maturation and the secretion of testosterone (the major male hormone).

Generally, castration has numerous advantages and disadvantages which we shall now discuss.

Behavioral advantages of Castration

To prevent unwanted litter and population control: Irresponsible pet ownership leads to overpopulation of pets, and dumping/abandoning of unwanted litters of puppies and kittens. Every year, thousands of unwanted dogs and cats roam the streets or are abandoned on the street, and they eventually become nuisances and health threats to people in the neighborhoods. This sad waste of healthy life can be reduced by not letting pet dogs and cats breed indiscriminately. Therefore, one way of preventing any accidental, unwanted breeding from occurring is through the routine neutering of all non-stud (non-breeder) male dogs and tomcats.

Decreased testosterone-induced behavior: One of the most important behavioral advantages of castration is that castrated dogs and cats tend to be less aggressive as adults towards their male counterparts and towards people.  Complete dogs and cats are likely to be more aggressive, more dominant and more prone to male-to-male aggression (inter-male aggression) and fighting than neutered animals are. They will also tend to exhibit sexualized behaviors including: aroused interest in females of their own species; mounting of females (particularly in-heat, estrus females) and mating of females. Furthermore, they are more prone to displaying unwanted masculine territorial behaviors such as the guarding of resources (food, territory, companion people and so on) and the marking of territory with urine and feces (e.g. entire tomcats will commonly exhibit urine spraying in the house. The testicles are responsible for producing testosterone – the hormone that makes male animals look and act like male animals. And once neutering is done, production of testosterone is greatly reduced, and subsequently, aggressive behavior is equally eliminated or reduced.

Decreased roaming and stray animals: Male dogs and cats can sense females in heat through pheromones which leads to a behavior called “roaming”. If dogs and cats are castrated at an early age, they will not sense or respond to pheromones, and would certainly be less stressed and tend to stay home during mating seasons. On the other hand, complete male animals are more likely than neutered animals to leave their compounds or yards to roam the streets looking for females and for trouble. Roaming is a troublesome habit because it puts other animals (wildlife and other pets) and humans at risk of harm from your pet and it puts the roaming pet at risk from all manner of dangers including: predation by other animals, cruelty by humans, poisoning, envenomation (e.g. snake bite) and motor vehicle accidents. Castration may reduce some of these problematic testosterone-mediated behaviors.

Increased concentration and obedience: This is another behavioral advantage that is useful for when you are training or working your dog or cat, or using him for field work. If castrated, he will be a much better student with a much longer attention span even when there are females nearby that are in heat. This is because he will not be constantly distracted by pheromonal stimuli.

Medical advantages of castration

No testicular tumors: There are several different tumor types, both benign and malignant, that arise within the testicles. As with most cancers, these usually are not noted until the animal reaches 5 or more years of age. Therefore, these would not be a problem in those dogs and cats that have been castrated at the recommended earlier age.

Improved genetics: We can all agree that a male carrying a harmful genetic trait like hip dysplasia or epilepsy should be castrated. We must do all that is possible to prevent the spread or continuation of these conditions and others like them. Dog or Cat breeding is not merely the production of offspring, it is the transferral of genes and genetic traits from one generation to the next in a breed population. Pet owners and breeders should castrate male dogs and tom cats that have traits that are unfavourable or faulty to the breed as a whole and to reduce the spread of these defects further down the generations. Also, male dogs and cats with inheritable genetic diseases and congenital defects/deformities should also be neutered to reduce the spread of these genetic diseases to their offspring. Some examples of such inheritable diseases include cryptorchidism, polycystic kidney disease (PKD),lysosomal storage diseases and amyloidosis.

Fewer incidence of hernias: a hernia is a protrusion of an organ or parts of an organ or other structure through the wall of a cavity that normally contains it. Perianal hernias occur when the colon, urinary bladder, prostate, or fat protrude from the abdominal cavity, through the muscular wall by the anus and then lie just under the skin. This type of hernia is far more common in older, unneutered male dogs. The levels of testosterone and other hormones appear to relax or weaken the group of muscles near the anus. When the animal then strains to defecate or urinate, the weakened muscles break down and the abdominal organs and fat bulge out under the skin. Left untreated, these organs may become damaged, unable to function or even die from loss of blood supply. Additionally, because of the displacement of organs into this area, the animal may not be able to defecate or urinate correctly or completely and may become constipated or have urinary incontinence (dribble urine).

Prevention or reduction of testosterone-induced diseases It is well known that complete dogs can suffer from a range of diseases and medical conditions that are directly associated with high blood testosterone levels. These disease conditions include benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis, prostatic abscesses, perianal or perineal adenomas (small cancers that occur around the anuses of entire male dogs), perineal hernias and certain castration-responsive skin disorders (dermatoses). Castrating these dogs removes the main source of testosterone from the animal’s body (the testes), which not only prevents the onset of these diseases but can even help to control or cure these diseases if they are already present. In cats however, these diseases are not that common so its not always a reason for castration

The reduction of tom cat urine odors
People with inside cats often have to put up with smelly urine and fecal odors coming from their cats’ litter boxes or even around the house if/when they pee. As owners of complete tomcats can attest to, this urine smell can be very pungent and noxious, heavy with the stench of male cat pheromones. The odor is the result of testosterone and the retrograde ejaculation of sperm into the bladder. However, neutered male cats do not seem to produce this pungent urine smell. Therefore, castration can be considered a means by which owners of house cats can seek to reduce litter box urine odors. As an added bonus, castration will sometimes cure inappropriate spraying and toileting behavior in some tomcats altogether.

Disadvantages of castration

The cat may become overweight or obese:
Studies have shown that castrated animals probably require around 25% fewer calories to maintain a healthy bodyweight than entire male animals do. This is because a castrated animal has a lower metabolic rate than an entire animal does (it therefore needs fewer calories to maintain its bodyweight). Because of this, what tends to happen is that most owners, unaware of this fact, continue to feed their neutered tomcats the same amount of food after the surgery that they did prior to the surgery, resulting to fat, sometimes obese pets.

Castration/Neutering means a loss of breeding potential and valuable genetics:
If a dog or cat is the ‘last of its line’ (i.e. the last puppy or kitten in a long line of pedigree breeding animal), castrating that animal will lead to loss in valuable breed genetics. This will essentially spell the end for that breeding lineage.

Immature development of masculine characteristics and a reduced body musculature
The testicles are responsible for producing testosterone: the hormone that makes male animals look and act like male animals. It is the testicles that make male animals develop the kinds of masculine, testosterone-dependent body characteristics normally attributed to an entire animal. These include: increased muscle size and development; reduced body fat; mature penis development; mature prepuce development (mature penis sheath development); the ability to extrude the penis from the sheath (prepuce) and the suppression of development of feminine characteristics (mammary gland development, milk production etc.). Castration, particularly early age castration, may limit the development of mature masculine features such that they remain immature and juvenile looking and cause the neutered animal to have a reduced muscle mass and strength compared to an complete animal of the same size and breeding.

Castration may result in delayed growth plate closure
Animals that have been castrated early in life (before the age of 12 months) tend to exhibit delayed closure of their growth plates. Growth plates are the cartilage bands located in the ends of the animal’s long bones, which are responsible for making the bones grow and elongate during juvenile bone development and formation. As a result of delayed growth plate closure, castrated animals will often be taller and longer in limb than entire male animals. Whether this increase in growth plate closure time or bone length should be considered a problem or benefit really depends on the individual owner, but some people choose not to neuter animals early because of it (i.e. there is a concern that these animals may be more prone to orthopedic injuries). Any concerns about the effects of delayed growth plate closure, while not normally a problem, can be overcome if the castration is done after the growth plates have closed.

Are you curious about how castration (or neutering) works? Watch this video of a dog being castrated by  a veterinarian

Former NVMA President appointed as Adamawa’s Permanent Secretary

Dr. Edgar Sunday Amos, the immediate past National President and ExOfficio of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), has been appointed as the permanent Secretary of the Adamawa State Government. His appointment was made official by the Executive Governor of Adamawa State, Senator Bindo Jibrilla on Friday, December 22nd, 2017 at a swearing-in ceremony which took place in Government House Executive Chamber.

Upon his appointment, Dr. Edgar Amos was a member of the Adamawa State civil service where he has served in different capacities. He has subsequently risen through the ranks to be the Assistant Director (Research and Statistics) in the Ministry of Livestock Production, Yola, Adamawa state. With regards to NVMA, it should be noted that it was Dr. Edgar Amos who took over the mantle of leadership at a time when crisis rocked the NVMA’s National Leadership in 2016.

Dr. Edgar Amos was born in April 27, 1964 and he hails from Dunne in Adamawa state. He bagged his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from the University of Maiduguri, Maiduguri, Borno State.

We celebrate Dr Edgar Sunday Amos on his new appointment. We look forward to greater productivity and impact from him in the field of veterinary medicine and politics alike.

Unhealthy Abattoirs In Nigeria – Recommendations And Solutions

In our previous articles, we thoroughly discussed the dire issues of unhealthy abattoirs in Nigeria, using the Bodija Abattoir in Ibadan as a case study. Here, we elucidated on their poor environmental state and the unscrupulous meat processing activities carried out by the butchers. We also discussed the shady acts of selling infected meat, a common practice in Nigerian abattoirs where meat and offal infected with diseases such as tuberculosis, worms, brucellosis etc., are smuggled to be sold to the public for consumption. Through our investigations, we now understand more clearly the high public health risk that this presents for the large meat-consuming population of Nigeria.

To further buttress our findings on abattoirs in Nigeria, we carried out some field and laboratory tests over a period of one month. Samples were collected from animals that are being slaughtered at the abattoir and whose meat are being transported for sale at the meat markets. As part of our findings, on a daily basis we identified at least 7 meat and offal with lesions that showed classical TB infections. (Of course, there may have been several others that were not brought to our attention). These meat samples were further inspected at the laboratory and were confirmed by gross pathology and H&E examination respectively for tuberculosis. Also, we randomly collected fecal samples from cattle at the abattoir and tested them for worm infestation. Helminth tests revealed that about 25% of the total fecal samples examined tested positive for various worm eggs as indicative of worm infestations.

It is important to note that these diseases are zoonotic (that is, can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa) and cooking does not always kill all the micro-organisms every time. Indeed, Cadmus et al confirms in his report that there is the spread of Mycobaterium bovis in humans in Nigeria with Mycobaterium bovis being the strain of tuberculosis that is specific for cattle and usually found in meat. Other zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted to humans include, leptospirosis, anthrax, salmonellosis etc

 

 #AbattoirNigeria – Our message to you on safe meat consumption

 

Recommendations for standard abattoirs and healthier abattoir practices

Whether for health reasons or for aesthetic reasons, it is highly expedient that this issue of unhealthy abattoirs be resolved finally. Based on the public reactions and outcry garnered from previous reports in this series, we can all collectively agree that it is indeed a national disgrace to have our abattoir where some of our staple food is produced in such unhealthy and filthy states. Therefore, it is the collective jobs of all and sundry to ensure that practical solutions are carried out for a systematic positive change in our abattoirs. We hereby propose the following recommendations;

  • There should be a complete overhaul and rehabilitation of the entire Abattoir System in Nigeria and this should be in tandem with global standards.
  • The government at all levels should employ more veterinarians and other relevant officials to serve the purpose of inspecting meat at all times so as to make available wholesome meat fit for human consumption. In the same tone, existing meat hygiene laws and policies must be enforced at all abattoirs around the country.
  • Compensatory systems should be available to butchers as this will encourage butchers and cattle farmers with diseased animals that are meant for slaughter to surrender the animals to the appropriate authorities for condemnation.
  • Ante-mortem inspection and quarantine measures should be strictly adopted to prevent diseased animals from being slaughtered in abattoirs in the first place
  • Butchers should be trained on the importance of maintaining a standard and healthy abattoir system, on WASH principles and the use of personal protective equipment for their work. Socio-cultural myths and practices that are not beneficial in their line of work should also be addressed.
  • All meat consumers should endeavor to look out for the type of meat products they buy and consume. Also, be concerned about the production phase at the abattoir and call out any unscrupulous activity by any butcher that has the risk of jeopardizing consumer health.
  • Individuals, professional groups, societies, and NGOs should continue to advocate for abattoir restructuring even as they get the attention of the government and appropriate authorities.

Together, we can answer the urgent call to protect the ourselves from various infectious and zoonotic diseases that are gotten from unhealthy consumption of meat and offal in abattoirs. In this holiday season, eat healthy and stay healthy.

 

The #AbattoirNigeria report series is supported by the ImpactAFRICA Fund and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

 

 

 

Alleviating and Eliminating the Threat of ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE

We have previously provided an introduction to the meaning and implications of antibiotic resistance including a brief discussion on the action plan on antimicrobial resistance as provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Here we bring you added information as we continue to join advocacy efforts at combating the current increase in global antimicrobial resistance.

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Antimicrobial drugs play a very critical role in the treatment and prevention of varying disease conditions in animals, humans, aquaculture and even crop production. However, in light of their numerous advantages, they are constantly misused leading to antimicrobial resistance. As a result of this gross misuse of antimicrobial drugs worldwide, we now have the potential risk of emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistant micro-organisms.

There are evidences that support the fact that the emergence of Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria in livestock production is connected to the emergence of Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria that colonize and infect the human population. It is therefore expedient to examine the different actions and activities within the Livestock sector that has inadvertently resulted into antimicrobial resistance in human. In a bid to keep diseases off a livestock farm (a poultry farm as a case study), farmers place different measures because financial sustainability and gain is of premium importance. Such measures include proper and adequate ventilation, temperature control, vaccination, biosecurity, adequate nutrition, housing, quarantine and proper spacing. As an added measure, antimicrobials are also used (albeit indiscriminately) for non-therapeutic preventive purposes to avoid future occurrence of disease conditions.

There are different factors that are crucial to the emergence of Antimicrobial resistance and they include,

  1. Widespread antimicrobial use: The widespread use of antimicrobials in agriculture, healthcare, aquaculture and horticulture can be identified as one of the drivers of antimicrobial resistance.
  2. Antimicrobial growth promoters: The use of antimicrobial growth promoters as feed additives in intensively produced animals has being found to alter the gut microbiota of treated animals and promote resistance transfer within the animal and environmental microbiome. The antimicrobial growth promoters are administered at sub-therapeutic doses to livestock animals through drinking of water or feed which are sold and used indiscriminately without veterinary prescription or supervision.
  3. Prophylaxis treatment: This is a type of treatment that involves the use of antimicrobials on susceptible but healthy animals to prevent the occurrence of diseases.
  4. Metaphylaxis: the administration of antimicrobials to a group of animals in which some of the animals in the group have exhibited signs of infection while others are healthy but risks becoming infected. It acts as a curative and preventive measure at the same time.

Antimicrobial resistance is rising to a new higher level and there are growing list of infections that are becoming difficult and sometimes impossible to treat. This include tuberculosis, pneumonia, foodborne diseases, gonorrhea and blood poisoning. In addition resistance to tetracycline, penicillins and sulphonamides has been recorded among animals and humans alike. This scourge of antimicrobial resistance is growing at an alarming rate globally and if care is not taken, the world might be back to the dark age where common infections and minor injuries can kill easily. It is therefore expedient that individuals and professionals employ measures that will reduce the spate of antimicrobial resistance. These include taking care of the following measures.

For Individuals.

  1. Individuals should use antimicrobials when prescribed by a qualified medical professional.
  2. Do not demand for antimicrobials if your physician says you do not need them
  3. Always adhere to the instruction of the physician on the use of antimicrobials
  4. Do not share or use leftover antimicrobials and always complete your recommended dosage of antibiotic prescription even when you feel well and healthy
  5. Prevent infections by regularly ensuring clean and hygienic body and environment which includes, washing of hands, preparing food hygienically, practicing safer sex and comply with vaccination schedule.

For Veterinarians and animal care-givers

  1. Antimicrobials should be given to animal patients under veterinary supervision only.
  2. The use of antibiotics and certain probiotics as growth promoters and for prevention of diseases should be drastically limited.
  3. Animals should be duly vaccinated at the recommended times to prevent diseases in livestock of livestock.
  4. The veterinarian should promote and apply best practices at all steps of production and processing of foods from animal and plant sources.
  5. Veterinarians should ensure and improve the biosecurity on farms and prevent infections through improved animal welfare.

In addition, government as the policy makers obviously have key roles to play with regards to how we can put an end to antimicrobial resistance in other to save the future. These include –

  1. Adopting a robust national action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance
  2. Improving surveillance on antimicrobial resistant infections.
  3. Strengthening policies, programs and implementation of the prevention of infection and the control measures.
  4. Regulating and promoting the appropriate use and disposal of quality medicines.
  5. Providing and promoting widespread information on the impact of antimicrobial resistance.