The feasibility and acceptability of various bovine brucellosis control strategies in India

01 Apr 2021
Dhand NK, Singh J, Josan HS, Singh BB, Jaswal N, Tiwari HK, Kostoulas P, Khatkar MS, Aulakh RS, Kaur M and Gill JPS

Bovine brucellosis is a neglected zoonotic disease prevalent in several developing countries including India. It has been successfully controlled in many developed countries by using vaccination in conjunction with extensive surveillance and test-and-cull approaches, but some of these approaches do not suit Indian culture and norms. This study was conducted to investigate the feasibility and social acceptability of various bovine brucellosis control strategies in India. Focus group discussions and key-informant interviews were conducted with veterinarians, para-veterinarians, veterinary academics, farmers and other stakeholders. Vaccination with the Brucella strain 19 vaccine was considered feasible, but the participants were concerned about the risk of self-inoculation, the inability to vaccinate pregnant and male animals, the difficulty to differentiate vaccinated from diseased animals and the challenges of maintaining the vaccine cold chain in India. As expected, the test-and-cull approach was not considered feasible as cattle are considered sacred by Hindus and their slaughter is banned in most states. Although the test-and-segregation approach appears reasonable in theory, it would have low acceptability, if implemented without providing any compensation to farmers. Negligible biosecurity was implemented by farmers: almost no biosecurity procedures were performed for visitors entering a farm, and testing of animals was rarely undertaken before introducing them to a farm. However, the participants considered that improving biosecurity would be more acceptable and feasible than both the test-and-cull and the test-and-segregation approaches. Similarly, inadequate personal protection was used by veterinary personnel for handling parturition, retention of placenta and abortion cases; this was considered as another area of possible improvement. Farmers and veterinarians expressed serious concerns about stray cattle as many of them could potentially be infected with brucellosis, and thus could spread the infection between farms. This study recommends using vaccination and biosecurity along with some ancillary strategies to control brucellosis in India. Information from the study could be used to develop an evidence-based disease control program for the disease in the country.