With Eid-ul-Azha approaching, the Karachi cattle market, the biggest in Asia, seems to be yet again the talk of the town. It has expanded from 700 acres and 250,000 animals last year to 900 acres and 400,000 animals this year, and has also become a source of entertainment for Karachiites.
However, as has been the case in previous years, there are serious health concerns for both visitors and animals at the market. The foremost concern is the Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) virus which is spread among animals by the bite of over 30 different species of ticks. The disease can be transferred to humans directly by the ticks, or by handling or eating the meat of an infected animal. There are already reports of potentially-diseased animals being sold at the market. It is imperative, therefore, that several measures be implemented urgently to protect the public at animal markets.
Firstly, a concrete policy must be developed to examine sacrificial animals arriving from across the borders which would allow for detection of the disease. Surprisingly, no such policy has yet been formulated by the provincial livestock departments. The best method to guard against the disease is the de-ticking of farm animals before transportation or delivery. Additionally, the spraying of germicides at cattle markets is also essential. It is also important that people not take children to cattle markets, and wear face masks, closed shoes and full-sleeve shirts with long pants. Gloves must be worn while inspecting and slaughtering animals, and contact with animals must be limited as much as possible. People must also use insect repellents to save themselves and their animals from ticks, and avoid eating and drinking at cattle markets and carry boiled or filtered drinking water with them.
It is easy to get carried away by the excitement of the occasion but these precautions are essential to ensure a safe Eid-ul-Azha for the whole family.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2019.