The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has alerted the general public about the outbreak of Anthrax in neighboring countries within the West African sub-region, specifically in Northern Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.
The disease, which has claimed some lives, is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and humans, known as a zoonotic disease. Anthrax spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals.
According to a statement from the Ministry, people can get infected with Anthrax spores if they come into contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products. It was emphasized that Anthrax is not a contagious disease, so one cannot get it by coming into close contact with an infected person.
The statement highlighted the signs of Anthrax, which include flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, and muscle aches. If not diagnosed and treated early, Anthrax can lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty in breathing, shock, and death. However, being a bacterial disease, it can respond to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy.
Anthrax is primarily a disease of animals, but due to humans’ proximity to animals, non-vaccinated animals with Anthrax can easily transmit the disease to humans through the inhalation of Anthrax spores or consumption of contaminated/infected animal products such as hides and skin, meat, or milk.
The statement emphasized that annual vaccinations with Anthrax spore vaccines are available at the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Plateau State, and this is the cheapest and easiest means of prevention and control of the disease in animals. It also noted that infected animals cannot be vaccinated, but animals at risk can receive the vaccine.
In light of the current situation, the Ministry emphasized the need to intensify animal vaccinations along the border states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos states, due to their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo, and Ghana. Other states in Nigeria were also advised to participate in the vaccination exercise.
To prevent the spread of the disease, 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 was strongly advised to refrain from consuming hides (pomo), smoked meat, and bush meat, as they pose a serious risk until the situation is brought under control.
The Ministry assured the public that 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. State Directors of Veterinary Services nationwide have also been sensitized to the situation.