Demographic characteristics of small ruminant farmers in Cameroon
A total of 200 questionnaires were completed during the survey. Most of the respondents included in the study were male (80%), aged 21-50 years (56.5%). About 96.5% of the farms had no animal health staff and 36.5% of the respondents had no education. These farmers are mostly married in monogamy (54.5%) and small ruminant farming is the main activity of 62.6% of them, most of whom (52.5%) have been doing it for 10 to 20 years. Financial income is the main objective of 94.5% of farmers; only 2% of respondents practice this activity for self-consumption and 3.5% for pleasure. The work force is mainly family (98%) and a minority of farms (2%) have a work force composed mainly of employees.
Characteristics of small ruminant farms studied in Cameroon
The majority (37.50%) of small ruminant herds in the northern regions are made up of sheep and goats, most of which have between 10 and 20 head (50%). Reproduction is very often uncontrolled and is done by natural mating (100%). Feeding is mainly done by grazing (89.5%) and the animals drink mainly from streams (90.5%). Infections of the digestive system (33.7%) and parasitism (20.4%) are frequently encountered in these farms. Less than 1% of the farmers use laboratory tests to identify diseases on their farms. Regarding abortions, the farmers interviewed regularly (96.50%) reported cases of abortion on their farms. The causes of the abortion were not investigated for most of the respondents (98.50%) and the stage of pregnancy at the time of the abortion was unknown for 97% of them. However, 91% of respondents did not perform any post-abortion treatment and all respondents did not apply any prophylactic measures. The majority of abortions recorded on farms were concentrated during one period of the year (48.5%), usually between March and August (84.55%).
Knowledge of small ruminant farmers on Toxoplasmosis and Abortive Chlamydia
The distribution of small ruminant farmers' knowledge of Toxoplasmosis and abortive Chlamydia in the surveyed areas was presented in Table 1. Overall, the mean knowledge scores of Toxoplasmosis and abortive Chlamydia of small ruminant farmers in the study regions were 0.1 ± 0.2. Region, age, marital status, education level, occupation of farmers, purpose of farming as well as the level of hygiene in farms and feeding method were the main factors influencing the knowledge score. The study also showed that, the mean knowledge scores on toxoplasmosis and abortive chlamydia were significantly (P < 0.05) higher in the North (0.12 ± 0.27), (0.10 ± 0.21) and Far North regions (0.07 ± 0. 21), (0.06 ± 0.17), respectively, then in the Adamawa region (0.03± 0.14), (0.03± 0.10). The criteria for assessing the level of knowledge of small ruminant farmers revealed that 10% have heard of these diseases, 8% know which animals can be affected by toxoplasmosis and chlamydia, 10% know the symptoms in animals and can describe them, and 5% know that humans can be infected by these diseases. Associated with this, very few know the different routes of transmission (1%), but 11% say that it is possible to contract these diseases by various means, including: contact with an infected animal, eating meat from an infected animal, and contact with the fetus and fetal membrane of an infected animal.
Farmers' practices and attitudes towards small ruminant abortions
Criteria such as separating aborted sheep and/or goats from others, slaughtering the aborted animal for consumption, selling the aborted animal at market, treating the aborted animal, reporting the abortion to the veterinary service, and vaccinating the aborted animals, were used to assess the inappropriate practices and attitudes of small ruminant farmers (Fig. 2). Half of the respondents adopted appropriate practices (0.36 ± 0.13) especially in Adamawa (0.38 ± 0.14) and Northern (0.36 ± 0.14) Cameroon regions. Regarding herders' attitudes toward abortions, respondents in the Far North (0.33 ± 0.08) and Northern (0.33 ± 0.07) regions had more appropriate attitudes compared to those in the Adamawa region (0.29 ± 0.07) (P = 0.01). The distribution of mean scores of practices, attitudes of small ruminant farmers towards abortion on the surveyed farms is presented in Table 2.
Perception of risks on Toxoplasmosis and abortive Chlamydia by small ruminants farmers in Cameroon.
As for the perception of risks by the interviewed farmers, a mean score of 0.13 ± 0.38 for Toxoplasmosis and 0.10 ± 0.30 for Chlamydia was observed. Small ruminant farmers in the Adamawa region (0.04 ± 0.21 for Toxoplasmosis and 0.04 ± 0.18 for Chlamydia) were less sensitized than those in other regions. When asked specifically about farmers' perception of the risks of Toxoplasmosis and Chlamydia, 11% of farmers stated that these diseases were a threat to public health, but 10% were aware that they were a problem for animal health. Region (p=0.03), respondents under 20 years of age, with primary education (0.04 ± 0.23) did not significantly perceive toxoplasmosis and chlamydia as a risk compared to other categories. However, the level of education (p=0.02), occupation (p=0.0001), purpose of farming (p=0.05) and feeding method (p=0.004) significantly influenced the risk perception of small ruminant farmers in the said localities (Table 2).
Measures of the level of KAPP association of small ruminant breeders in the different study regions.
Person's correlation was used to highlight the level of association between KAPPs by region. The associations showed that the KAPP scales of small ruminant farmers in the study regions were significantly (p<0.01) and positively correlated between knowledge about Toxoplasmosis and Chlamydia (r=0.98) and risk perception (r=0.99). Strong significant correlations were also observed between KAPP scales within the same region, ranging up to 0.99 between regions for Toxoplasmosis knowledge, Chlamydia knowledge (r=0.99) and risk perception (r=0.99) (Table 3).