Heritage Reporter

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FG raises alarm over outbreak of Anthrax disease

…Advises against ‘ponmo’ consumption

 

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has raised an alarm that Anthrax is in some neighbouring countries within West Africa, specifically, Northern Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.

 

Anthrax is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and man which in turn makes it a zoonotic disease.

The Permanent Secretary, FMARD, Dr. Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe in an official statement explained that Anthrax spores which are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and Wild Animals have claimed some lives in the West African sub-region and therefore, urged Nigerians to stop eating cow skin, ‘ponmo’ for now.

In a statement, Umakhihe warned that people can get infected with anthrax spores if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

However, Umakhihe said that anthrax is not a contagious disease and as a result, 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,” he added.

Umakhihe said that anthrax being a bacterial disease can respond to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy.

He further stated that 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/infected animal products, such as hides and skin, meat or milk.

Umakhihe disclosed that annual vaccinations with anthrax spore vaccines 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.

“However, infected animals cannot be vaccinated but animals at risk can be vaccinated,” he chipped in.

He advised that there is the 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.

He also added that the other States of Nigeria are equally advised to join in the exercise.

Umakhihe in the statement said that 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, however, warned that the general public is strongly advised to desist from the consumption of hides (ponmo), smoked meat and bush meat as they pose serious risk until the situation is brought under control.

Umakhihe urged the public 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.

He said relevant institutions and collaborators have been contacted with the aim of controlling the outbreak, in addition to the sensitisation of State Directors of Veterinary Services nationwide.

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