The Federal Government, on Monday, confirmed the first case of anthrax in Nigeria, stating that the disease was detected in a farm in Niger State.
On June 13, 2023, The PUNCH reported that the Federal Government alerted the general public to the outbreak of anthrax disease in some neighbouring countries within the West African sub-region and advised Nigerians to desist from the consumption of hides, otherwise known as ponmo, at the moment.
The FG had specifically stated that the disease was widespread in northern Ghana, bordering Burkina Faso and Togo, as it also promised to keep the Nigerians updated on developments about the disease.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development stated that it was “deeply concerned to announce the confirmation of an anthrax case in Niger State, Nigeria.”
It added, “On July 14, 2023, the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria was notified of animals manifesting symptoms of a suspected case of anthrax in a farm in Suleja, Niger State.
“The case was in a multi-specie animal farm comprising of cattle, sheep and goats located at Gajiri, along Abuja-Kaduna expressway Suleja Local Government Area, Niger State, where some of the animals had symptoms including oozing of blood from their body openings – anus, nose, eyes, and ears.”
The FMARD stated that a rapid response team comprising of federal and states’ One Health Professional Team visited the farm to conduct preliminary investigations and collected samples from the sick animals. “Subsequent laboratory tests by the National Veterinary Research Institute laboratory confirmed the diagnosis, marking the first recorded case of anthrax in Nigeria in recent years and after the report of an outbreak of anthrax in Northern Ghana a few weeks ago. All animals affected have died,” the ministry stated.
Anthrax is caused by the spore-forming bacterium – Bacillus anthracis, which primarily affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats.
It can also infect humans who come into direct contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products, such as meat, wool or hides.
Inhalation of anthrax may occur through the inhalation of spores, while cutaneous anthrax can result from contact with contaminated materials or through open wounds.
The statement, however, stated that the Federal Government, through the FMARD, in collaboration with the Niger State Government, had taken proactive measures to ensure the outbreak was controlled and contained quickly in Nigeria. “This includes quarantine of the affected farm, deployment of anthrax spore vaccines to the affected and adjoining farms to vaccinate in-contact animals, and educating the farm workers of the affected farms on symptoms, preventive measures, and what to do when they encounter suspected cases.
“Plans are also underway to conduct nationwide vaccination of cattle, sheep, and goats against anthrax. Surveillance of anthrax will be heightened in livestock farms, markets and abattoirs. Public awareness campaigns on anthrax will be intensified,” the FMARD stated. The ministry encouraged all livestock owners to remain vigilant and promptly report any suspicious illness or deaths in their animals, to avoid contact with sick or dead animals and their products.
It urged livestock owners to exercise caution when buying animals such as cows, camels, sheep, goats, and other livestock from Nigerian states bordering Benin, Chad and Niger, as well as from Ghana and Togo via waterways.