By Mike Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – The regional office of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) here is now ready to assist farmers in combating schistosomiasis on their farm animals, DA 13 spokesperson Emmylou Presilda told The Manila Bulletin on Thursday.
Presilda said that unknown to the general public, schistosomiasis does not only affect humans but also animals especially farm animals that might be exposed to infested water.
She said the BAI of the DA 13 is eyeing the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratories (DA-RADDL) to include schistosomiasis diagnosis in its array of services to farmers.
“This is in relation also to the program of the Duterte administration through DA Secretary Manny Pinol that the food program of the government should not be disrupted by any animal disease and the government is ready to assist our farmers,” Presilda said.
To capacitate laboratory personnel, the BAI and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) of the Department of Health conducted a 3-day extensive training in Butuan City hosted by DA Caraga RADDL recently on Oct. 2-4, 2018.
According to the World Health Organization, schistosomiasis is an acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic worms that infect people during routine agricultural, domestic, occupational, and recreational activities that expose them to infested water.
“Schistosomiasis is affecting farm animals too but as of now we don’t have concrete data on how prevalent it is in the country since its study generally focuses on the human side,” said Dr. Daria Manalo, chief science research specialist of RITM, told the Manila Bulletin.
She explained that farm animals exposed in areas with the presence of the intermediate host snail called Oncomelania species will most likely be infected by the disease.
“Oncomelania species of snail is very small, as small as the tip of the ballpen,” said Dr. Manalo. She said the common notion is that the parasite-causing disease can be contracted from the golden apple snail (GAS) commonly seen in rice paddies or irrigation canal linings. “Based on available studies, GAS is not a host of the parasite, it is only the Oncomelania species,” she explained.
“As of now there is no specific study yet to determine the effect of the schistosomiasis on animals, hence, previous animal cases might be attributed to other disorders,” Manalo said.
Dr. Esther Cardeño, chief of the DA- Caraga RADDL said that diagnosis of schistosomiasis on animals is currently not part of the services being offered. “We are leaning towards schistosomiasis diagnosis but we are still waiting for the diagnosis protocol being finalized by RITM,” Cardeño said.
“As soon as the protocol has been finalized, DA-Caraga can include schistosomiasis diagnosis in our laboratory services,” she said, adding that the presence of schistosomiasis on animals can be determined through the fecal sample to be analyzed in the laboratory.
The WHO reported that the economic and health effects of schistosomiasis are considerable and the disease disables more than it kills. In children, schistosomiasis can cause anemia, stunting and a reduced ability to learn, although the effects are usually reversible with treatment. Chronic schistosomiasis may affect people’s ability to work and in some cases can result in death.
“The number of deaths due to schistosomiasis is difficult to estimate because of hidden pathologies such as liver and kidney failure, bladder cancer and ectopic pregnancies due to female genital schistosomiasis,” WHO added.