Hyderabad: The next time you sacrifice a sheep or a goat during a major religious festival or ritual, make sure that you purchase a healthy animal, free of viral infection.
If possible, get it examined by a veterinary doctor. Health experts, faced with frequent cases of Orf virus, have now called for precautionary measures to prevent the transmission of the disease to humans.
The finest and unblemished animals are generally bought for ritual sacrifice. Today, however, people mostly buy lambs, which are cheaper and more plentiful but also highly susceptible to Orf virus infections.
This change in buying practices has created a large market for possibly infected animals and an associated potential health risk for the butchers, researchers warn.
Orf virus causes painful skin problems in humans lasting up to eight weeks. It may even cause death in people with compromised immunity.
Orf virus is endemic to India and several other countries. There are frequent cases of Orf infection in animals in India, though human cases go unreported due to poor diagnostic facilities in hospitals for this virus.
Human infections of Orf virus surfaced in France during Bakrid this year. Similar cases were reported last year in the USA, Belgium and Jordan. Some cases are also common during Passover and Easter. Infections are also reported in household meat processing or animal slaughter in non-festival times too.