In the impoverished communities, animal health is inextricably tied to human health
Especially in farming areas like the Little Karoo, the care of companion animals impinges on livestock which in turn impinges on the quality of human food.
With local municipalities either unaware or unconcerned about public health implications, many fail to enforce their own by-laws designed to control the conditions in which animals are kept, bred, cared for or disposed of. KAPS workers also battle with lack of co-operation. Thus many diseases thrive which are transmissible to humans, particularly children.
* Some local authorities, who are happy to see KAPS arrange free euthanasia of sick and injured animals for impoverished residents, fail to play their part in the safe and efficient disposal of carcases containing toxic drugs. We often experience resistance in Kannaland, where the municipality refuses to contribute a single cent towards our work, and where temperatures can easily reach 40 Celsius.
* Kannaland municipality has also dragged its feet for years in the matter of residents keeping and breeding pigs illegally in disgusting conditions on municipal wasteland where there is no water. The area is infested and refuse-strewn, the pens are ramshackle and filthy with excrement, and the pigs are thin, dehydrated and unhealthy. They are kept, of course, for one purpose: human consumption.
In the Little Karoo, KAPS is the one agency providing free assistance with animals in the poor communities where there are no veterinary services. We improve public health by mass dipping and deworming, we control animal overpopulation by mass sterilising, and we raise the health-consciousness of children and adults by mass educating.
The following are diseases found in pets and livestock in the rural areas of the Western Cape. Children are especially at risk.
* Mange, which transmits to humans as scabies.
* Zoonotic dermatoses (an estimated 15%-35% of all human dermatitis originates from infected animals)
* Worms – especially tapeworm, hookworm, ringworm and whipworm (a study of a West Coast town found 75% of children aged 6-7 were infested)
* Leptospirosis (can cause meningitis or pneumonia)
* Toxoplasmosis (affects the foetus of a pregnant woman)