Endemicity of Zoonotic Diseases in Pigs and Humans in Lowland and Upland Lao PDR: Identification of Socio-cultural Risk Factors. PLoS Neg Trop Dis, April 2016. Authors: Hannah R. Holt , Phouth Inthavong, et al.
In Lao PDR, pigs are an important source of food and income and are kept by many rural residents. This study investigated five diseases that are transmitted between pigs and humans (zoonoses), namely hepatitis E, Japanese encephalitis, trichinellosis, cysticercosis and taeniasis. Humans and pigs in Lao PDR were tested for antibodies against the agents (pathogens) responsible for these diseases. Human participants were classified into three groups or “clusters” based on hygiene and sanitation practices, pig contact and pork consumption.
Cluster 1 had low pig contact and good hygiene practice. Cluster 2 had moderate hygiene practices: around half used toilets and protected water sources; most people washed their hands after using the toilet and boiled water prior to consumption. Most people in this cluster were involved in pig slaughtering, drank pigs’ blood and were more likely test positive for antibodies against hepatitis E and Japanese encephalitis viruses. Finally, people in cluster 3 had lowest access to sanitation facilities, were most likely to have pigs in the household and had the highest risk of hepatitis E, taeniasis and cysticercosis.
The diseases in this study pose a significant threat to public health and impact pig production. This study identified characteristics of high-risk individuals and areas with high disease burden and could be used to target future disease control activities to those most vulnerable.