Risk factors associated with Ctenocephalides felis flea infestation of peri-urban goats: a neglected parasite in an under-appreciated host.

Julia Rose Dahm, Jordana L Burdon Bailey, Rob Kelly, Patrick Chikungwa, Julius Chulu, Livia Costa Junior, Emily June Freemen, Dagmar Meyer, Stella Mazeri, Neil Sargison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Goats are critical in mixed smallholder agricultural systems in lower and middle income countries; while fleas are important human and animal health concerns around the world. Convenience sampling was used to describe and consider risk factors for flea infestations of peri-urban goats, with the aim of informing the iterative development of animal husbandry and management based control strategies. 792 goats were examined in 228 households across 10 peri-urban communities surrounding Blantyre in southern Malawi. The prevalence of Ctenocephalides felis fleas was 18.3%, 37.1% and 100% at the levels of individual goats, households and communities, respectively, highlighting a neglected human and animal health concern. Constant introduction of new livestock coupled to a lack of biosecurity within communities; the ubiquitous presence of dog and cat hosts for C. felis; the frequency and thoroughness of cleaning overnight goat accommodation; and goat age less than 12 months-old, were identified as risk factors for flea infestation. This focal cross-sectional study highlights the significance of fleas in peri-urban communities, and uncovers trends and commonalities that are needed to inform sustainable disease management. The majority of the peri-urban goat keepers were female, had resided in the same community throughout their whole life, and had primary level education. Advice on the planned management of fleas in livestock needs to be tailored towards this demographic group. This approach affords an opportunity to promote public health measures to address household flea infestations and zoonotic disease spread.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTropical Animal Health and Production
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Goats
  • Malawi
  • Fleas
  • peri-urban smallholder
  • conjunctival mucous membrane colour
  • zoonosis

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