The tropical climate of Indian sub-continent is conducive for many arthropod parasites to grow, multiply and disperse in wider geographical area. Over 20% of all emerging infectious diseases are due to arthropod-borne pathogens. Mosquito and fly menace are havoc in humans as well as in animals and also play significant role in spreading infectious diseases, causing annoyance, restlessness, off feed etc. which in turns leads to production losses. It is well known fact that, majority of livestock keeping farmers are resource poor, hence, any loss in livestock production like mortality and morbidity will have direct negative effect on their livelihood system. In tropical countries like India, parasitic infestation is one of the major threats to livestock production system. So, it’s very crucial to safeguard livestock from the bite and annoyance of mosquitoes and flies.
Vector-borne diseases (VBDs) are the infectious diseases transmitted through a competent vector, between humans or from animals to humans. World Health Organization (WHO) reported that VBDs account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases and cause more than 1 million deaths annually (WHO Country Office for India, 2014 and WHO, 2016). Many of these vectors are haematophagus in nature, which ingest pathogen during feeding from an infected host (human or animal) and transfer to new host in their subsequent blood meal. Among all, mosquitoes rank first in vector capacity. Others include ticks, flies, sandflies, fleas, triatomine bugs and some freshwater aquatic snails. “Block the Bite” is a campaign for creating awareness on mosquito borne diseases viz., malaria, Japanese encephalitis, filariasis, yellow fever and dengue in humans, worldwide. In case of livestock’s, mosquitoes transmit a number of pathogens like, avian smallpox, classical swine fever/hog cholera virus as well as Dirofilaria immitis heartworm of dogs and cats, filarial worms in cattle in tropical climatic conditions (Das and Das, 2006; Sabu and Subramanian, 2007 ). Apart from mosquitoes, tiny small midges like culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) are involved in transmission of bluetongue virus (BTV), African horse sickness (AHS) virus, epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus, equine encephalitis virus, akabane virus, bovine ephemeral fever virus and viruses in the palyam group (Mellor et al., 2009). In similar line, there is a need for creating awareness in people involved in livestock sector i.e. ‘Block the Bite by Mosquito Net’. Since, biting by mosquitoes and flies will eventually reduce the livestock fitness, weight gain, and animal welfare due to pain and stress (Garros et al., 2018). Furthermore, mosquito feeding may also result in pathogen transmission between livestock reservoirs (epizootics) and incidentally humans (zoonotic diseases). Present observation was made in Davanagere district of Karnataka state, where livestock farmers adopted mosquito net technology in animal shed to protect their livestock (cattle, buffalo, sheep and goat), guarding dogs from the mosquitoes and flies. There was lot of re-invention in the mosquito net technology made by farmers in resource poor setup to prevent mosquitoes and flies. In this district, farmers are prepared the mosquito net on their own using old sarees (dress used by ladies). In connection to this, local shop keepers have made readymade nets based on farmer’s idea from materials like, cotton, polyethylene, polyester, polypropylene and nylon and may be re-tailored based on the farmers requirement.
Mosquito net is an age-old practice and mainly used by humans to protect them from mosquito bite (Narladkar and Shivpuje, 2014). In recent times a good number of farmers effectively utilizing mosquito net technology, irrespective of their socio-economic status, herd size, housing system and type of livestock kept for protecting the animals from wide range of flying parasites. In some part of the world, people using medicated nets that may be insecticidal or insect repellent to safe guard the animal health. Resource rich livestock farmers can employ the fly proof housing, commercial mosquito repellents, fly trappers, fan or any other advanced innovations in protecting the animals from mosquitoes and flies. But these advanced technologies may not be relevant for resource poor farmers. Therefore, locally made mosquito nets will be one of the effective tools in protecting the livestock from the mosquitoes and flies in keeping the of farmers’ socio-economic status.
|Fig. 1: Farmer with cotton mosquito net in open space for protecting sheep and cattle from mosquitoes and flies
Farmers must restrain the livestock with ropes, poles and barricades to prevent any damage to the mosquito net, because these nets are highly delicate and easily get tear off. Hence, to prevent the damage to the net and to avoid the chances of strangulation, suitable arrangements must be made. If the farmers having livestock sheds and which is covered with wall and roofs, mosquito net can be used to cover the windows, open area and doors to prevent the entry of flies and mosquitoes. In some cases, farmers keeping the livestock in open area, if they need to protect the animals from the annoyance of arthropod vectors, the mosquito net must be covered from all the sides like North-South, East-West and on top side also. There should not be any space or gap for the entry of mosquitoes/flies into animal enclosers. The durability of the nets which are made up of sari varies with the quality of the sari which was used. In the field conditions, farmers opined that mosquito nets made up of sari can be used up to two years. Similar type of work has been conducted in Maharashtra for integrated management of culicoides where, they used net shed with pitch roof (gable type) fitted with hurricane type ventilator at its top to minimize host-pest contact (Narladkar and Shivpuje, 2014).
Fig. 2: Farmer using the old sarees as the mosquito net in animal shed
|Fig. 3: Sheep and goats were protected from the mosquito bite using net
Fig. 4: Shade net used in open space to protect small ruminants from flies
|Fig. 5: Shade net used within animal shed to protect buffaloes from fly and mosquito
Advantages of Adopting Mosquito Net Technology in Livestock Production System
With shrinking of grazing land, livestock rearing system is shifting towards ‘zero grazing’. Global warming is leading to enhanced transmission rate of parasites and pathogens with higher virulence. Hence, mosquito net technology will be the effective tool in tropical climate for providing annoyance free environment for the livestock, preventing the outbreak of vector born livestock diseases and to achieve the animal welfare.