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Zootherapy as a potential pathway for zoonotic spillover: a mixed-methods study of the use of animal products in medicinal and cultural practices in Nigeria

Friant, Sagan; Bonwitt, Jesse; Ayambem, Wilfred A.; Ifebueme, Nzube M.; Alobi, Alobi O.; Otukpa, Oshama M.; Bennett, Andrew J.; Shea, Corrigan; Rothman, Jessica M.; Goldberg, Tony L.; Jacka, Jerry K.

Zootherapy as a potential pathway for zoonotic spillover: a mixed-methods study of the use of animal products in medicinal and cultural practices in Nigeria Thumbnail


Authors

Sagan Friant

Wilfred A. Ayambem

Nzube M. Ifebueme

Alobi O. Alobi

Oshama M. Otukpa

Andrew J. Bennett

Corrigan Shea

Jessica M. Rothman

Tony L. Goldberg

Jerry K. Jacka



Abstract

Background Understanding how and why people interact with animals is important for the prevention and control of zoonoses. To date, studies have primarily focused on the most visible forms of human-animal contact (e.g., hunting and consumption), thereby blinding One Health researchers and practitioners to the broader range of human-animal interactions that can serve as cryptic sources of zoonotic diseases. Zootherapy, the use of animal products for traditional medicine and cultural practices, is widespread and can generate opportunities for human exposure to zoonoses. Existing research examining zootherapies omits details necessary to adequately assess potential zoonotic risks. Methods We used a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative and qualitative data from questionnaires, key informant interviews, and field notes to examine the use of zootherapy in nine villages engaged in wildlife hunting, consumption, and trade in Cross River State, Nigeria. We analyzed medicinal and cultural practices involving animals from a zoonotic disease perspective, by including details of animal use that may generate pathways for zoonotic transmission. We also examined the sociodemographic, cultural, and environmental contexts of zootherapeutic practices that can further shape the nature and frequency of human-animal interactions. Results Within our study population, people reported using 44 different animal species for zootherapeutic practices, including taxonomic groups considered to be “high risk” for zoonoses and threatened with extinction. Variation in use of animal parts, preparation norms, and administration practices generated a highly diverse set of zootherapeutic practices (n = 292) and potential zoonotic exposure risks. Use of zootherapy was patterned by demographic and environmental contexts, with zootherapy more commonly practiced by hunting households (OR = 2.47, p < 0.01), and prescriptions that were gender and age specific (e.g., maternal and pediatric care) or highly seasonal (e.g., associated with annual festivals and seasonal illnesses). Specific practices were informed by species availability and theories of healing (i.e., “like cures like” and sympathetic healing and magic) that further shaped the nature of human-animal interactions via zootherapy. Conclusions Epidemiological investigations of zoonoses and public health interventions that aim to reduce zoonotic exposures should explicitly consider zootherapy as a potential pathway for disease transmission and consider the sociocultural and environmental contexts of their use in health messaging and interventions.

Citation

Friant, S., Bonwitt, J., Ayambem, W. A., Ifebueme, N. M., Alobi, A. O., Otukpa, O. M., …Jacka, J. K. (2022). Zootherapy as a potential pathway for zoonotic spillover: a mixed-methods study of the use of animal products in medicinal and cultural practices in Nigeria. One Health Outlook, 4(1), Article 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42522-022-00060-3

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 19, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 26, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date May 31, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 21, 2022
Journal One Health Outlook
Publisher BioMed Central
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 1
Article Number 5
DOI https://doi.org/10.1186/s42522-022-00060-3
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1204926

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Publisher Licence URL
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Copyright Statement
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.






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