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Nigeria records first Anthrax case in Niger

The first case of the Anthrax disease has been discovered on a farm in Niger State. This was announced by the Federal Government on Monday.

The government informed the public of the anthrax disease epidemic in a few nearby nation’s in the West African sub-region on June 13 and asked Nigerians, during this time, to refrain from consuming hides, commonly known as ponmo.

The Federal Government had particularly mentioned that the disease was common in northern Ghana, which borders Burkina Faso and Togo, and that it would keep Nigerians informed of any new information regarding the epidemic.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development expressed concern over confirming an anthrax case in Niger State in a statement released on Monday in Abuja.

The Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria was informed on July 14 of animals showing signs of a possible case of anthrax on a farm in Suleja.

The statement added that a multi-species farm with cattle; sheep and goats were the site of the incident in the town. The farm was located in Gajiri along the Abuja-Kaduna highway, and some of the animals there displayed signs that they were infected, including oozing blood from their anus, noses, eyes, and ears.

Meanwhile, FMARD noted that a quick reaction team of federal and state ‘health care professional teams’ went to the farm to conduct initial investigations and gather samples from the ill animals.

The National Veterinary Research Institute laboratory’s additional tests proved the diagnosis accurate, making this the first instance of anthrax to be reported in Nigeria in recent years and following news of an anthrax outbreak in Northern Ghana a few weeks ago. The ministry, however, reported that all affected animals had died.

The spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which mostly affects cattle, sheep, and goats, is the source of anthrax.

It can spread to people who have direct contact with diseased animals or animal products like meat, wool, or hides.

Anthrax can be inhaled through the inhalation of spores, but ‘cutaneous anthrax’ can be contracted through open wounds or contact with contaminated objects.

However, according to the statement, proactive steps had been taken by the Federal Government through the FMARD in partnership with the Niger State Government to ensure that the outbreak was rapidly confined and controlled in Nigeria.

This, the organisation said, entails placing the contaminated farm under quarantine, distributing anthrax spore vaccinations to nearby farms to immunise infected animals, and training the affected farms’ farm personnel about symptoms, precautions, and what to do in the event of possible outbreaks.

National anthrax vaccination campaigns for cattle, sheep, and goats are also being planned. Increased anthrax surveillance will be implemented in livestock farms, markets, and slaughterhouses. Public education programmes about anthrax will as well be ramped up.

In order to prevent interaction with unhealthy or dead animals and their products, the ministry urged all livestock owners to exercise caution and instantly report any odd illness or deaths in their animals.

It advised owners of livestock to take precautions while purchasing animals including cows, camels, sheep, goats, and other livestock from states in Nigeria that border Benin, Chad, and Niger, as well as from Ghana and Togo over waters.

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