The Nigerian government has issued a fresh alert over a possible outbreak of a bacterial disease that “affects both animals and man”.
A statement issued by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), said the zoonotic disease that is known as anthrax, has now been confirmed within the West African sub-region; specifically, Northern Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.
The statement, which was signed by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Ernest Umakhihe, advised Nigerians against the consumption of hides (pomo), smoked meat and bushmeat, to avoid possible spread.
In a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, the ministry’s Director of Information, Joel Oruche, confirmed the authenticity of the statement and urged Nigerians to heed the advice.
The statement emphasised that the consumption of hides poses a serious risk until the situation is brought under control.
According to the statement, the anthrax spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals.
It noted that people can get infected with anthrax spores if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.
However, it added that anthrax is not a contagious disease and so, one cannot get it by coming in close contact with an infected person.
The signs of anthrax according to the ministry are flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, and muscle aches and if not diagnosed and treated early, lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty in breathing, shock and death.
The statement noted that anthrax can be treated with antibiotics and supportive therapy.
“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 or infected animal products, such as hides and skin, meat or milk,” the ministry noted.
The ministry also noted that the annual vaccinations with anthrax spore vaccines are available at National Veterinary Research Institute Vom, Plateau State and that it is the cheapest and easiest means of prevention and control of the disease in animals.
However, it noted that infected animals cannot be vaccinated but that animals at risk can be vaccinated.
The statement further said: “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.
“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 ministry urged the public to remain calm and vigilant, noting that the government has resuscitated a standing committee on the Control of Anthrax in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
It noted that relevant institutions and collaborators have been contacted with the aim of controlling the outbreak, adding that it is in addition to the sensitization of state directors of veterinary services nationwide.
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