Anthrax: Nigerian govt warns against slaughtering sick animals

Mariam Ileyemi ~ Premium Times
The Nigerian government has warned against slaughtering sick animals for Eid-el-Adha to avoid the outbreak of anthrax in the country.

According to a public health advisory jointly signed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Nigeria is at high risk of importing the disease from Ghana, where it was confirmed both in humans and animals since 1 June.

Though Nigeria is yet to record any suspected or confirmed case, the government emphasised that the outbreak in Ghana poses a great public health risk to Nigeria due to “the dangerous and highly transmissible nature of the disease.”

Anthrax is a severe bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals, including wild animals and livestock such as cows, pigs, camels, sheep, goats,

However, the government has outlined preventive measures for Nigerians and livestock owners to reduce the potential risk of infection and the spread of anthrax.

Preventive measures
The government advised Nigerians to avoid all non-essential travel to the northern region of Ghana especially the Upper East Region where the outbreak was reported.

It noted that Nigerians should exercise caution when buying livestock – from states bordering Benin, Chad, and Niger, and from Ghana and Togo via waterways, adding that rams or cattle to be slaughtered for the festive period should be carefully observed for signs of sickness before slaughtering.

For livestock owners, it advised vaccination of the animals as the most effective preventive measure against anthrax.

It added that livestock owners should use personal protective equipment (gloves, facemasks, goggles, boots) when handling sick animals and avoid slaughtering sick animals.

“Immediately report cases of animals bleeding from body openings to veterinary authorities, or agriculture extension workers,” it noted.

Symptoms of anthrax

According to the NCDC, the bacteria, which exist as spores, can be found in the soil, wool, or hair of infected animals, adding that it affects humans through eating and direct contact with infected animals and breathing in the spores, which is “the deadliest form of the disease.”

It noted that symptoms in animals include high fever, weakness, loss of appetite, bleeding from all body openings (nose, mouth, ears, anus etc.), swelling and difficulty in breathing and bloody diarrhoea.

Also in humans, NCDC explained that depending on the 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 added that it can also cause severe digestive illness that resembles food poisoning.

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