The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) have expressed their readiness to partner to check and control the spread of Anthrax disease in the country.
Their partnership followed the anxiety created over the emergence of anthrax outbreak in Nigeria, following the report of two recently confirmed cases in Lagos State.
The Communications Officer FAO Nigeria, David Tsokar, made this known in a statement issued to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to the statement, on 13 July, a suspected case of Anthrax was reported in a mixed farm at Sabon Wuse, Niger State and a rapid response team was deployed by the federal government to collect samples and send to the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) in Vom, Plateau.
The presence of the disease was confirmed by the team and consequently, FMARD announced government’s plan to intervene and control its possible spread.
Mr Tsokar said the Director, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, (FDVPCS) in FMARD, Columba Vakuru, said the strategy of interventions include to quarantine the affected farm.
Other measures include the vaccination of susceptible animals around the infected farm, educating farm workers using the one-health approach, and planning statewide vaccination of susceptible animals.
The FAO Nigeria, through the Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), was requested to provide the technical and financial support to the intervention strategy.
This has to be on logistics to the start-off of the risk-based nation-wide vaccination against Anthrax, which commenced last Friday, 22 July, in Suleja (Niger State), the local government where the first case was reported.
Subsequently, a nation-wide meeting with all Directors of Veterinary Services (DVS) from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory would be convened to fashion a comprehensive response to prevent, detect and respond to further spread of Anthrax to other parts of the country.
The FAO ECTAD Country Team Lead, Otto Muhinda, said that “the partnership is to be enhanced within the context of the One Health approach, and efforts would be sustained using a strong team of frontline experts, to prevent the spread of the disease to other parts of the country.
“With the support of USAID, we are pursuing our efforts to mobilise human and financial resources, including the Directors of Veterinary Services from the 36 states and FCT Abuja, to discuss the ongoing Anthrax outbreak and evaluate the preparedness of the States vis-à-vis the implementation of strategies to prevent spread of the disease into the country as well as put in place control measures.”
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The consultative meeting with DVSs from the states would discuss risk-assessment and survey, conduct of mass nationwide vaccination of animals (cattle, sheep and goats) against Anthrax, refresher training for epidemiology officers and training of livestock professionals, farmers, butchers and traders on biosecurity measures.
The joint field mission to Sabon Wuse was conducted by the ECTAD, FDVPCS and the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), where a quick risk assessment was conducted, one week after the first animal died of the disease.
Vaccinations had, however, been carried out and other risk communication initiatives were deployed to avoid the spread to other farms and/or neighboring communities within 15 kilometers radius.
The same team would be deployed to Lagos State to carry out same exercise.
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