Food safety knowledge and practices among actors in beef chain with reference to Rift Valley fever outbreak in Maragua district, Kenya
Kioko, Peter Musyoka
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Food-borne diseases and zoonoses including Rift Valley Fever continue to burden public health and undermine livelihoods in Kenya despite existing control programmes. The 2006-2007 outbreak of RVF in Kenya caused a total of 560 human morbidities and 185 mortalities in 16 Districts includingMaragua District, Central Province which had four human cases. This study assessed the level ofbeef safety knowledge, practices and constraints among livestock producers, traders, slaughterhouse operators, meat transporters, butchers, consumers and regulators with reference to the RVF disease outbreak in the area. A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out among 399 randomly selected respondents in four sub locations of Kigumo, Kandara, Makuyu and Maragualocation, Maragua District. A semi structured interview schedule was administered among the selected actors while an in-depth interview was conducted with key informants’ in the district. The data was analyzed with the help of Statistical Package Software System version 12. A statistical test using Fisher’s exact test value based on Monte Carlo was used to show relationships and associations. The results were presented in descriptive form using frequency tables, bar charts and pie charts. To determine the level of knowledge on beef safety standards, five Rift Valley fever disease characteristics were assessed; beef-borne diseases, susceptible species, transmission, clinical signs and prevention. The study found that level of knowledge on beef safety standards was generally low and depended on the characteristic being evaluated and in some cases differed significantly among the actors in the study categories. For example 98.5% of the respondents had good knowledge of beef-borne diseases and statistically there were no significant differences (p=0.404) among the actors.On species susceptibility knowledge,cattle (46.4%), man (26.6%) and there is a significant difference (p=0.010) among actors. Actors differed significantly (p=0.002) on transmission knowledge by tick bites (30.8%) followed by mosquito bites. The most conspicuous clinical sign in cattle were nasal discharge (29%) and fever (16.4%) according to the actors but analysis showed there were no significant differences (p=0.379) among actors knowledge on clinical signs of RVF in cattle. On the prevention in cattle, the results showed knowledge on vaccination was (41.9%), dipping (13.4%) and quarantines (12.2%) and there was a significant difference (p=0.001) in the levels of knowledge among the actors. Results on prevention in humans, consumption of inspected beef was 36.3% and consumption of cooked beef was 28.3% showing a significant difference (p=0.001) among actors knowledge. Most of the actors identified seeking veterinary advice (58.5%) and treatment by self (33.6%) as the best practices on management of RVF cases. There were no significant differences (p=0.5), between the actors’ practices on when cattle got sick. Practices on dead cattle, 57.7% wouldbury, 20.7% remove hide, 11.7% burnt and 9.6% call veterinary doctor which had no significant difference (p=0.472) among actors. On health seeking practices,those whovisithospital were 75.2%, visit to herbalist (3.8%) and bought drugs were 2.3% and there were no significant difference (p= 0.116) among actors.The major constraints to beef safety were corrupt inspecting officers (29.7%) and insufficient policy (23.1%) which showed there was a significant difference (p=0.001) among the actors on the understanding of these constraints. The results showed there was need to increase public education (30.5%) and training of all actors (25.6%) which was corroborated by the key informants. The study recommended that the government should develop a multi stakeholder public health education programmewith simple messages to tackle the spread of RVF. In addition, the government should employ more veterinary personnel and formulate a beef safety policy with relevant legislation to guide the sector.