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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

If you can’t avoid ponmo, cook it very well before eating!

Following the outbreak of Anthrax in Northern Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo, Nigerians have been advised to stop consuming cow hide, aka, ponmo.

Smoked and bush meat also got the bashing for the same reason.

According to experts, Anthrax is a rare but serious bacterial illness caused by a spore-forming bacterium.
It mainly affects animals, but humans can become infected through contact with an infected animal or by inhaling spores.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, gave the warning.

This is not the first time that Nigerians would be warned against consuming ponmo. Same for bush meat.

So far, experts say, there is no evidence to suggest that the disease can be transmitted from person to person.

“Since high temperatures can kill most of the bacteria, therefore, meat should be cooked thoroughly before consumption,” experts counsel.

Umakhihe said it was necessary to alert Nigerians on the outbreak of the disease which is currently ravaging Northern Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.

According to him, Anthrax is transferred from infected animals to humans, as its spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals.

Its signs include flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, muscle aches and if not diagnosed and treated early, can lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty in breathing, shock and death.

Cutaneous anthrax on arm

He said, “The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development hereby alerts the general public on the outbreak of Anthrax in some neighbouring countries within the West African Sub-Region; specifically, Northern Ghana Bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.

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“The disease, which has claimed some lives, is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and man, that is a zoonotic disease. Anthrax spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals.

“People can get infected with Anthrax spores if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

“However, Anthrax is not a contagious disease and so, one cannot get it by coming in close contact with an infected person.

“Signs of Anthrax are flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, muscle aches and if not diagnosed and treated early, lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty in breathing, shock and death.

“Being a bacterial disease, it responds to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy.

“The general public is strongly advised to desist from the consumption of cow hide (pomo), smoked meat and bush meat as they pose serious risks until the situation is brought under control.

“Meanwhile, the public is urged to remain calm and vigilant, as 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. This is in addition to the sensitization of state directors of veterinary services nationwide.”

Umakhihe further stated that Anthrax is primarily a disease of animals but because of man’s closeness to animals, non-vaccinated animals that contract it can easily transmit it to man through the inhalation of Anthrax spores or consumption of contaminated/infected animal products, such as hide and skin, meat or milk.

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The Permanent Secretary also called on border States of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos to intensify vaccination of animals, because of their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana.

“However, infected animals cannot be vaccinated,  but animals at risk can be vaccinated. So, in this present case, there is a need to intensify animal vaccinations along border states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos because of their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana. Other states of Nigeria are equally advised to join in the exercise.

“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,” he said.

He, however, disclosed that the annual vaccinations with anthrax spore vaccines are available at the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Plateau State, and are the cheapest and easiest means of prevention and control of the disease in animals.

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