The Federal Government has confirmed the first case of anthrax in the country. A statement from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, FMARD, said animals showing signs of a possible case of anthrax on a farm in Suleja, Niger State, were reported to the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria on July 14, 2023.
The statement, signed by the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria, Dr Columba Vakuru, reads in part, “The case was in a multi-specie animal farm comprising of cattle, sheep and goats located at Gajiri, along Abuja-Kaduna expressway in 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.
“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.”
The FMARD had earlier alerted the general public on the outbreak of Anthrax within the West African Sub-Region; specifically, Northern Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.
Anthrax is an infectious zoonotic disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. The bacteria live in the soil and usually infect wild and domestic animals, such as goats, cattle and sheep, but it can also infect people that come into contact with infected people or contaminated animal products like meat, wool, or skins. The disease is not contagious.
Anthrax is primarily a disease of animals but because of man’s closeness to animals, non vaccinated animals with the disease can easily transmit it to man through the inhalation of the spores or consumption of contaminated/infected animal products, such as hides and skin, meat or milk.
Contamination of the skin might result through open wounds or contact with contaminated objects, while anthrax that spreads through the air can happen when spores are inhaled.
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 Ministry said 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. It noted that the general public should desist from the consumption of hides (ponmo), smoked meat and bush meat as they pose serious risk until the situation is brought under control.