The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued a cautionary statement advising Nigerians to refrain from consuming hides (ponmo), smoked meat, and bush meat. This warning comes as a response to the outbreak of Anthrax in neighboring countries. Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, emphasized the need to alert the public regarding the disease, which is currently spreading in Northern Ghana, near the border with Burkina Faso and Togo.
Anthrax is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and humans, known as a zoonotic disease. Its spores are naturally present in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals. While people can become infected through contact with contaminated animals or animal products, it is important to note that Anthrax is not a contagious disease.
Symptoms of Anthrax resemble those of the flu, including cough, fever, and muscle aches. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe conditions such as pneumonia, respiratory problems, shock, and even death. Fortunately, Anthrax responds to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy.
The general public is strongly advised to refrain from consuming hides (ponmo), smoked meat, and bush meat, as they pose serious risks until the situation is under control. The Federal Government has taken action by reestablishing a Standing Committee on the Control of Anthrax within the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Collaborative efforts with relevant institutions are underway to control the outbreak, and State directors of veterinary services nationwide have been sensitized.
Anthrax primarily affects animals, but due to humans’ proximity to animals, non-vaccinated animals can transmit the disease to humans through inhalation of spores or consumption of contaminated animal products. Therefore, it is crucial for border states such as Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos to intensify the vaccination of animals, considering their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo, and Ghana.
Proper burial procedures for infected dead animals involve deep burial into the soil along with equipment used in the process, after applying chemicals that can eliminate Anthrax spores.
To prevent and control the disease in animals, annual vaccinations with Anthrax spore vaccines are available at the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Plateau State. These vaccines are considered the most cost-effective and practical means of prevention.
The Ministry urges Nigerians to remain calm and vigilant while taking necessary precautions to mitigate the risks associated with Anthrax. By staying informed and following the guidelines provided, the population can contribute to the control and prevention of the disease.
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