Nigerians have been advised to stop consuming hides (ponmo), smoked meat and bush meat due to the outbreak of Anthrax in some neighbouring countries.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development gave the caution on Monday in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe.
Umakhihe said it was necessary to alert Nigerians on the outbreak of the disease which is currently ravaging Northern Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.
According to him, Anthrax is transferred from infected animals to humans, as its spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals.
Although people can get infected with Anthrax spores if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products, it is not a contagious disease.
Its signs include 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.
He said, “The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development hereby alerts the general public on the outbreak of Anthrax in some neighbouring Countries within the West African Sub-Region; specifically, Northern Ghana Bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.
“The disease, which has claimed some lives, is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and man, that is 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 so, 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, 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 general public is strongly advised to desist from the consumption of hides (pomo), smoked meat and bush meat as they pose serious risks 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.”
Umakhihe further stated that Anthrax is primarily a disease of animals but because of man’s closeness to animals, non-vaccinated animals that contract it 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.
The Permanent Secretary also called on border States of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos to intensify vaccination of animals, because of their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana.
“However, infected animals cannot be vaccinated but animals at risk can be vaccinated. So in this present case, there is a need to intensify animal vaccinations along border states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos 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,” he said.
He, however, disclosed that the annual vaccinations with anthrax spore vaccines are available at the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Plateau State, and are the cheapest and easiest means of prevention and control of the disease in animals.