Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is an endemic neglected parasitic zoonosis in many of the countries of the Middle East. The disease poses a remarkable economic burden for both animals and humans. In this study, we conducted a questionnaire survey among livestock farmers in Basrah province, southern Iraq, in order to evaluate their knowledge and awareness about CE, and to understand some of the risky practices that could contribute to spread and persistence of such disease. Of the interviewed participants (N = 314), 27.4% owned dogs on their farms. Among farmers owning dogs, 76.7% (66/86) never tied up their dogs, and 43% (37/86) indicated feeding uncooked animal viscera to their dogs. The majority (96.5%) of the farmers indicated that they did not de-worm their dogs at all. Only 9.8% (31/314) of the respondents indicated eating raw leafy vegetables without washing. Added to that, 32% of the interviewees indicated that they source water for domestic use from a river; meanwhile 94.3% (296/314) of them do not boil water before using it for domestic purposes. Half of the interviewed livestock farmers in Basrah were not aware about how humans get infected with CE disease, and 41.4% (130/314) did not even realize that CE is a dangerous disease to human health. Almost one in three of the respondents who owned dogs on their farms viewed de-worming of their dogs as a low priority practice. This study highlights the gap in knowledge and awareness about CE among the study population. Risky practices associated with dog keeping management and food and water handling practices were identified. The insight from this research could be used to improve the delivery of a health education message relevant to cystic echinococcosis control at the human-animal interface in Iraq.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited