FG Raises Alarm On Anthrax Disease Outbreak in Neighboring West African Countries.

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The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued a public alert regarding the outbreak of anthrax in several neighboring countries within the West African sub-region.

Specifically, the disease has been detected in northern Ghana, bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.

The announcement was made by Dr. Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and humans, making it a zoonotic disease.

The disease, which has already claimed several lives, is caused by anthrax spores that are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals.

It is important to note that anthrax is not a contagious disease, meaning it cannot be transmitted directly from person to person.

Individuals can become infected with anthrax spores if they come into contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

Symptoms of anthrax include flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, and muscle aches. If left untreated, the disease can lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty breathing, shock, and even death.

Fortunately, anthrax responds to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy.

While primarily a disease of animals, humans can contract anthrax through inhalation of anthrax spores or by consuming contaminated or infected animal products, such as hides and skin, meat, or milk.

To prevent and control the spread of the disease in animals, annual vaccinations with anthrax spore vaccines are available at the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Plateau State.

Vaccination is considered the cheapest and easiest means of prevention. Although infected animals cannot be vaccinated, it is crucial to vaccinate animals at risk.

Therefore, the Ministry advises intensifying animal vaccinations in border states such as Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos due to their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo, and Ghana.

Other states across Nigeria are also encouraged to participate in the vaccination exercise.

The Ministry emphasizes the importance of proper disposal for infected dead animals. Infected carcasses should be buried deeply in the soil along with the equipment used in the burial, after applying chemicals that can kill the anthrax spores.

In light of the outbreak, the general public is strongly advised to refrain from consuming hides (pomo), smoked meat, and bush meat, as these products pose a serious risk.

The Federal Government has reactivated a Standing Committee on the Control of Anthrax in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to address the situation effectively.

Additionally, relevant institutions and collaborators have been contacted with the aim of controlling the outbreak.

The Ministry has also initiated a sensitization campaign targeting State Directors of Veterinary Services nationwide.

The public is urged to remain calm and vigilant while the authorities work diligently to bring the situation under control.

Regular updates and guidance will be provided to ensure the health and safety of both humans and animals.