Livelihoods of Fulani pastoralists and burden of bacterial zoonoses in the Kachia grazing reserve, Nigeria
Ducrotoy, Marie Julie
The work presented focuses on bacterial zoonoses in northern Nigeria, and more specifically on brucellosis in the Kachia grazing reserve (KGR) - rangeland set-aside by the government to sedentarise Fulani pastoralists. The objectives of the study were to 1) undertake demographic and socioeconomic profiling of the KGR community; 2) review the evidence for brucellosis burden in Nigeria; 3) assess the suitability and performance of brucellosis diagnostic tests selected for use; 4) compare burden of brucellosis across different species (animal and human) and determine Brucella species present in KGR; 5) explore social or environmental factors which may promote or prevent brucellosis transmission; 6) make recommendations for brucellosis control in the KGR and Nigeria; 7) explore community perception of disease and determine household expenditure on animal health; 8) critically evaluate the system’s, integrated, disease cluster, ‘One Health’ approach applied in this study. Three surveys comprising animal (cattle, sheep and goat) and human sampling, administration of questionnaires, focus group discussions and key informant interviews were undertaken in March, June and October 2011. A population census was undertaken in June 2011. Comparison of 2010 government census data with June 2011 census data showed that a mass immigration event occurred in April-May 2011 as a result of post-election violence, with cattle and human populations increasing by 75%. Questionnaire and census data demonstrated the diversity and heterogeneity of the Fulani community in terms of wealth status (roughly corresponding to livestock assets), household size and composition and livelihood diversification strategies. While Fulani in grazing reserves were assumed to be sedentary, KGR households were found to practice wide-range dry and wet season transhumance. Cattle productivity parameters and herd dynamics were similar to those reported by other authors for the extensive pastoralist systems in the sub-humid zone. Herd increase over a one-year period was found to be low or negative for most households in this low input, low output system. Brucellosis epidemiology in the KGR involves B. abortus biovar 3a with low individual and moderate cattle herd prevalence and occasional spill-over into small ruminants. No human brucellosis was detected despite over 80% of the KGR population consuming raw milk and engaging in risky behaviours, raising questions about the potential lower virulence of the local biovar. Low infection rates in livestock, disease-reducing intuitive behaviours or immunity may also be at play. The RBT was found to perform well under field conditions, despite poor concordance when applied in different laboratories and under different conditions. Prospects for control/elimination of brucellosis in the KGR are poor, but low animal burden and absence of human disease render vaccination uneconomic. A review of the literature in Nigeria suggests that brucellosis burden is higher in intensive livestock production systems, which should be targeted first. A laissez-faire approach to brucellosis control in the nomadic pastoralist domain may appeal to policy-makers, as interventions in migratory populations are difficult. Brucellosis is perceived by the KGR community as the number three-priority disease, after trypanosomiasis and Fasciola gigantica/clostridial infection and this was reflected in household expenditure on chemotherapeutics and prophylaxis. Finally, the value of the One Health approach is the ability to see the whole picture, including disease impacts in the animal reservoir as well as the human population, without which erroneous epidemiological and economic conclusions may be drawn; for example, presence of brucellosis in the animal reservoir does not necessarily indicate presence of human disease. This work shows that moving from disciplinary silos to a more holistic or system’s approach spanning epidemiology, evaluation of diagnostic and control tools as well as socio-economic, cultural and institutional aspects can lead to more appropriate recommendations for disease control.