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FG confirms anthrax outbreak in Niger

The Federal Government today confirmed the first case of anthrax in Nigeria.

The disease was detected in a farm in Niger State.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis.

It occurs naturally in soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world. People can get sick with anthrax if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products. Anthrax can cause severe illness in both humans and animals.

What anthrax infection looks like

The FG had last week alerted the public to the outbreak of anthrax disease in some neighbouring countries and advised Nigerians to desist from the consumption of hides, also known as ponmo.

In a statement issued on Monday in Abuja, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) said that the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria was on July 14 notified of animals manifesting symptoms of a suspected case of anthrax in a farm in Suleja, Niger State.

The case according to the statement 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.

It added, “Some of the animals in the farm had symptoms including oozing of blood from their body openings including anus, nose, eyes, and ears.”

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The FMARD further 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.

The Ministry said, “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 Federal Government assured that proactive measures have been taken in collaboration with the Niger State Government to ensure the outbreak was controlled and contained quickly in Nigeria.

Some of the measures taken include: 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.

The Ministry also disclose that plans are underway to conduct nationwide vaccination of cattle, sheep, and goats against anthrax while surveillance of anthrax will be heightened in livestock farms, markets and abattoirs.

“Public awareness campaigns on anthrax will be intensified,” the FMARD stated; encouraging 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.

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It also urged livestock owners to be cautious when buying animals such as cows, goats, sheep and camels among others from Nigerian states bordering Benin, Chad and Niger, and from Ghana and Togo.

Christiana Alabi-Akande
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