Residents who slaughter livestock at home or purchase meat from unlicensed butchers during Eid Al Adha are running the risk of contracting fatal diseases, health officials have said.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention said buying meat from street butchers posed a serious health and environmental risk because health and safety standards are not guaranteed.
“Slaughtering animals outside the official abattoirs can put the whole family and the community at risk as many viruses can transmit between sick animals and humans such as the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus which can be fatal,” said Dr Fatima Al Attar, Head of International Health Regulations at the Ministry.
According to the World Health Organisation, CCHF is a severe type of fever that causes bleeding into the skin. It is transmitted to animals and humans through ticks or through contact with livestock carrying the disease. The virus can also spread between humans through bodily fluids. Symptoms can appear within two weeks after infection.
“It can cause fever, muscle pain, dizziness, neck pain, stiffness, back pain, headaches, eye inflammation and light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sore throat,” said Dr Al Attar.
Eventually the liver swells and can fail. About 40 per cent of victims die as a result of the virus and no vaccine is available for either people or animals.
“People should immediately seek medical help if they notice any symptoms to control the virus and prevent it from spreading,” she said
She said hot weather can also spoil meat that is left outside after slaughtering.
“Official abattoirs are available all around the country. It’s safer and more hygienic to use official abattoirs which offer professional services in a safe environment provided by well experienced and licensed butchers and veterinarians,” she said.
The Ministry of Economy said around 350,000 livestock from India, Pakistan, Australia and other countries are expected to be available in markets this week while the numbers could reach 700,000 livestock before Eid Al Adha.
It is customary, for some Muslims, to slaughter a goat or sheep during Eid Al Adha - the festival of sacrifice. The meat is divided into three parts and divided among relatives, the underprivileged and one third is retained by the family.