In the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, an alarming trend has emerged with the human transmission of Cryptosporidium, a disease commonly associated with cattle. The situation has become a serious public health and economic concern as the disease has primarily affected children under the age of five, and up to 5% of adults have also been impacted.
Researchers from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Veterinary Sciences and Animal Science have conducted a study on the dangers posed by Cryptosporidium in the areas of Banu, Lakki Marwat, and Kohat.
The study reveals that the disease infects a wide range of animals and humans, causing substantial economic losses and posing serious public health concerns.
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According to the Livestock Department’s Epidemiologist, Dr. Mohammad Zafar, the disease causes acute diarrhea in animals, affecting chickens, goats, and cattle, etc. These animals then spread the germs of the disease to different places, which contaminates water resources.
Dr. Mohammad Zafar warns that drinking water is already a problem in the southern districts, and when cattle pollute rivers, lakes, and other water bodies, the problem intensifies. As a result, the water brought into homes becomes unsafe for human consumption.
Children are more susceptible to Cryptosporidium infection because their immunity is weak. Other people with weak immunity are also at risk of contracting the disease.
Exposure to animals, poor sanitation, and hygiene conditions are the primary factors responsible for disease transmission in the study area, where poor sanitation, open latrines, and animal-human sharing are common. Contaminated water sources are also responsible for the spread of the disease to humans.
The study recommends prevention as the only way to stop the spread of the disease because there is currently no vaccine available against Cryptosporidium infection due to a limited understanding of its specific biology and challenges in vaccine development. The situation could worsen if left unchecked due to the limited treatment options available and poor health facilities in the study areas.