FG Raises the Alarm over Outbreak of Anthrax

By Seun Adams 

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture has alerted Nigerians on the outbreak of anthrax in some neighbouring countries within the West African sub-region.

The ministry specifically mentioned Northern Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.

The disease which the ministry says has claimed unspecified lives is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and man and it is therefore a zoonotic disease.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, in a statement, said anthrax spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals.

People can get infected with anthrax spores if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products, he added.

Signs of anthrax, he added are flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, muscle aches and if not diagnosed and treated early, lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty in breathing, shock and death.

Being a bacterial disease, it responds to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy, the Permanent Secretary, said.

“It is primarily a disease of animals but because of Man’s closeness to animals, non vaccinated animals with anthrax can easily be transmitted to man through the inhalation of anthrax spores or consumption of contaminated/infected animal products, such as hides and skin, meat or milk.

“Annual vaccinations with anthrax spore vaccines are available at National Veterinary Research Institute Vom, Plateau State and is the cheapest and easiest means of prevention and control of the disease in animals.” He stressed.

According to him, infected animals cannot be vaccinated but animals at risk can be vaccinated. So in this present case, there is the need to intensify animal vaccinations along border states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos states because of their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana. Other states of Nigeria are equally advised to join in the exercise.

On prevention, Umakhihe, said infected dead animals should be buried deep into the soil along with equipment used in the burial after applying chemicals that will kill the anthrax spores.

“The general public is strongly advised to desist from the consumption of Hides (pomo), Smoked Meat and Bush Meat as they pose serious risk until the situation is brought under Control.” He said.

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