NewsDesk @bactiman63

The Nigeria Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development alerted the public today on the outbreak of anthrax in some neighboring countries within the West African Sub-Region; specifically, Northern Ghana, bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.

Image/Robert Herriman

Permanent Secretary, Dr Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe says the disease, which has claimed some lives, is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and humans, aka a Zoonotic Disease. 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. However, anthrax is not a contagious disease and one cannot get it by coming in close contact with an infected person.

Signs of anthrax are flu- like symptoms such as cough, fever, muscle aches and if not diagnosed and treated early, can 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.

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

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Annual vaccinations for anthrax 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.

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.

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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 bushmeat as they pose serious risk until the situation is brought under Control.

Meanwhile, the public is urged to remain calm and vigilant as the Federal Government has resuscitated a Standing Committee on the Control of Anthrax in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Furthermore, relevant institutions and collaborators have been contacted with the aim of controlling the outbreak. This is in addition to the sensitization of State Directors of Veterinary Services Nationwide.

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