The Federal Government on Monday, July 17, 2023 announced the outbreak of Anthrax in the country.
This news comes a few weeks after the FG warned against the consumption of hides (ponmo) as well as smoked and bush meat.
This was contained in a statement with the subject ‘CONFIRMATION OF FIRST ANTHRAX CASE IN NIGERIA’, signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe.
Umakhihe in confirming the first case said it was detected in Niger, close to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, on a farm and confirmed on Sunday, July 16, 2023, by the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI)-Vom, Plateau State.
On 13th July 2023, the sudden deaths of livestock in this farm with eight (8) mortality was reported. In addition, the animals who died were observed to have been bleeding from external orifices without blood clotting.
Following this report, samples were collected on 14th July 2023 from multiple species in this livestock farm and transported to the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), VOM, Plateau State for testing and the results were positive for anthrax.
Definition of Anthrax
Anthrax is a deadly disease caused mainly by exposure to the bacteria spores of Bacillus Anthracis, which infects humans and animals including cows, pigs, camels, sheep, goats, etc. The bacteria, which exist as spores, can be found in the soil, wool, or hair of infected animals.
Anthrax spores are resistant to extreme conditions and can survive in the soil or environment for decades, making controlling or eradicating the disease very difficult. Anthrax spores are not only easily found in nature, they can be produced in a lab. The spores can be made into powders, sprays, or dissolved into water or food, and can be impossible to detect through smell or taste.
Anthrax is not contagious, thereby reducing the risk of large-scale outbreaks.
Anthrax has been deployed as a weapon around the world for nearly a century and was used in both World Wars.
Mode of transmission
Anthrax affects humans in three ways:
- Skin infection, i.e., direct contact with infected animals through wounds or cuts
- Gastrointestinal, i.e., through eating raw or undercooked meat of infected animals or their products including milk.
- Inhalation, i.e., breathing in the spores (the deadliest form of the disease)
In humans, depending on the type (described above) and route of infection, anthrax can cause fever, painless skin sores with a black center that appears after the blisters, general body weakness, and difficulty in breathing. It can also cause severe digestive illness that resembles food poisoning.
Anthrax symptoms typically appear within seven days of exposure and vary depending on the mode of transmission.
- Exercise caution when buying animals – cows, camels, sheep, goats, and other livestock – from Nigerian states bordering Benin, Chad, and Niger, and from Ghana and Togo via waterways.
- Carefully observe livestock to be slaughtered for consumption or sale for signs of ill health before slaughtering.
- Do not slaughter animals (cattle, sheep, and goats) at home, rather make use of abattoirs or slaughter slabs.
- Avoid contact with meat/bush meat or animal by-products such as skin, hides (“kpomo”) and milk of a sick or dead animal.
- Do NOT SLAUGHTER sick animals. Slaughtering the sick animal can cause significant exposure with risk of inhalation of the bacteria by humans around at the time.
- Do NOT EAT products from sick or dead animals.
- Hunters SHOULD NOT pick sick or dead animals from the bush or forest to be sold for human consumption.
- Report any incidence of sudden death of animals to the nearest veterinary authorities or the State Ministry of Agriculture. In addition, report this to the State Ministry of Health authorities in case anthrax is confirmed and human contacts need to be managed.
- Anthrax is treatable when reported early. Call the NCDC on our toll-free line (6232) if you notice any of the signs and symptoms associated with anthrax for prompt treatment.
The primary treatment for anthrax is antibiotic therapy, such as ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, or penicillin, when taken early.
Individuals exposed to anthrax may be given antibiotics as a prophylactic treatment to lessen the chance of infection.