…don’t slaughter sick animals, FG warns
The Federal Government has confirmed the first case of Anthrax in Nigeria after disclosing on Monday that the disease was detected in a farm in Niger State.
Columba Vakuru, chief veterinary officer of Nigeria, disclosed this in a statement on Monday.
According to him, animals manifesting symptoms of suspected cases of anthrax were spotted in a farm in Suleja on July 14, 2023.
He said: “The case was in a multi-specie animal farm comprising of cattle, sheep and goats located at Gajiri, along Abuja-Kaduna expressway Suleja LGA Niger State, where some of the animals had symptoms including oozing of blood from their body openings – anus, nose, eyes and ears.
“A rapid response team, comprising federal and state health professional team visited the farm to conduct preliminary investigations and collected samples from the sick animals. Subsequent laboratory tests by the National Veterinary Research Institute laboratory confirmed the diagnosis, marking the first recorded case of anthrax in Nigeria in recent years and after the report of an outbreak of anthrax in Northern Ghana few weeks ago. All animals affected have died.”
Anthrax is caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which primarily affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats but can also infect humans who come into direct contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products, such as meat, wool, or hides.
Also, inhalation anthrax may occur through the inhalation of spores, while cutaneous anthrax can result from contact with contaminated materials or through open wounds.
Vakuru, however, said the federal government, through the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development in collaboration with the Niger state government has taken proactive measures to ensure the outbreak is controlled and contained.
He advised Nigerians to avoid contact with meat/bush meat or animal by-products such as skin, hides (“ponmo”) and milk of a sick or dead animal.
He said: “Do not slaughter sick animals, slaughtering the sick animal can expose the anthrax spores which can be inhaled by humans if the animal is infected with anthrax. Hunters should not pick sick or dead animals from the bush or forest to be sold for human consumption.
“Sick animals should be isolated and strict quarantine measures implemented to prevent the spread of anthrax to other animals or humans. Early detection and reporting of suspected anthrax cases in animals or humans is important for implementing effective control measures.”
Things to know about Anthrax
Below are some important things to know about the disease that affects both humans and animals:
1. Anthrax is a severe disease caused by the bacteria – Bacillus anthracis. It can affect both humans and animals, including wild animals and livestock such as cows, pigs, camels, sheep, goats, etc. The bacteria, which exist as spores, can be found in the soil, wool, or hair of infected animals.
2. Anthrax spores are resistant to extreme conditions and can survive in the soil or environment for decades, making controlling or eradicating the disease very difficult. The spores are brought to the surface by wet weather, by deep digging, or when eaten by livestock or wild animals when they graze.
3. Anthrax affects humans through skin infection (Direct contact with infected animals through wounds or cuts); gastrointestinal (Through eating raw or undercooked meat of infected animals or their products including milk); and inhalation (breathing in the spores).
4. In animals, anthrax can cause symptoms such as high fever, weakness, loss of appetite, bleeding from all body openings (nose, mouth, ears, anus, etc.), swelling and difficulty in breathing, and bloody diarrhoea. It can lead to sudden death in most cases. The blood of an animal with anthrax does not clot on slaughter. Also, at slaughter, marked bloating and quick decay are observed.
5. In humans, depending on the type and route of infection, anthrax can cause fever, painless skin sores with a black centre that appears after the blisters, general body weakness, and difficulty in breathing. It can also cause severe digestive illness that resembles food poisoning.
6. Veterinarians, veterinary laboratory workers, farmers, abattoir workers, butchers, cattle rearers, livestock producers and traders, wildlife handlers, hunters, park rangers, processors, importers, and exporters of hide and skin, animal health workers are at risk of contracting anthrax.
7. People who consume animals (cattle, sheep, and goats) that were found dead, healthcare workers, diagnostic laboratory workers, and caregivers who are exposed to patients or their biological specimens are also at risk of contracting anthrax.
8. Vaccination is the most effective preventive measure against anthrax in livestock.
9. Exercise caution when buying cows, camels, sheep, goats, and other livestock from Nigerian states bordering Benin, Chad, and Niger, and from Ghana and Togo via waterways.
10. Do not slaughter animals (cattle, sheep, and goats) at home, rather make use of abattoirs or slaughter slabs.
11. Avoid contact with meat/bush meat or animal by-products such as skin, hides (ponmo), and milk of a sick or dead animal. Do not eat products from sick or dead animals.
12. Do not slaughter sick animals. Slaughtering the sick animal can cause significant exposure with the risk of inhalation of the bacteria by humans around at the time.
The public have been advised thus, “If you suspect that you or an animal may have been exposed to anthrax, quickly seek immediate medical care or call the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s hotline at +234 811 097 2378 or the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline at 6232,” the Ministry explained.Follow us on social media