Instilling Good Knowledge, Better Attitudes, and Practices on Dog Associated Zoonotic Diseases among a Jahai Community

Lead Researcher:

Prof. Dato’ Dr. Abdul Rashid Khan, PMC

 

Co-researchers:

Dr. Puteri Azaziah Megat Abdul Rani, UPM

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Malaika Watanabe, UPM

Dr. Lau Seng Fong, UPM

Dr. Azizah Ab Manan, Penang State Health Department

Dr. Surajudeen Abiola Abdulrahman, PMC

Dr. Sharifah Salmah Syed Hussain, UPM

 

Project Summary

This study was conducted among the Jahai Orang Asli, (an indigenous minority living in Peninsular Malaysia) in the Belum Forest in Perak, Malaysia. The Jahai are mostly hunter-gatherers. Hence dogs were essential for them for hunting purposes. However, because of the change in the job types, the dogs are not commonly used for hunting anymore, and because there are no natural predators, the dogs have bred extensively and wander around the village without owners. There are estimated 100 dogs in the community not cared for and they pose a risk for zoonotic infections transmitted by dogs to the community. This situation is compounded by poor personal hygiene, inadequate washing and cooking of food and perceived poor knowledge, attitude, and practices of the Jahai community regarding dog associated zoonotic infections.  The primary objectives of the study were to determine the knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) of the Jahai Orang Asli towards dog associated zoonotic infections and to develop One Health intervention strategies to break the chain of dog-associated zoonotic infections among the Jahai Orang Asli living in Sungai Tiang in Belum area. In total, three trips were made to the village, first for preliminary data collection, health promotion, and awareness. The second trip was for health education and health promotion among the Jahai children of the village followed by the final trip for post-intervention data collection. The final phase of the study was conducted in September and the data is being analysed at the moment. Preliminary analysis suggests that the community have poor KAP on zoonotic infections transmitted by dogs. Out of the 40 samples obtained from the 37 dogs and 3 cats from Jahai community, the antibody against Leptospira lai was demonstrated in a cat and 2 dogs showed seropositivity against Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae and one positive for Leptospira australis. Fourteen out of 40 samples were positive for dirofilariasis based on PCR study. Other results investigating toxoplasmosis and gastrointestinal protozoa are still pending. In total 70 undergraduates and 40 postgraduate students from medical, veterinary and allied health sciences benefited from the exposure. We are in the opinion that the dogs should be culled, castrated or spayed to control the population and the health promotion and education intervention must be consistent and persistently followed up and the level of success measured at regular intervals. We are looking for grants to continue the projects although there are many obstacles.