THE need for a proactive approach to tackling the outbreak of anthrax in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized taking into consideration its deadly effects on the people and livestock.
ANTHRAX, a severe disease caused by bacteria, can infect both humans and animals, including wild animals and livestock such as cows, pigs, camels, sheep, goats, etc.
THE bacteria, which exists 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. The spores are brought to the surface by wet weather, by deep digging, or when eaten by livestock or wild animals when they graze.
NIGERIA recorded the first case of anthrax in Niger state at a mixed livestock farm through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) on July, 13 2023. The sudden deaths of eight livestock at the farm was reported with observation that there were bleedings from external orifices without blood clotting.
IT has spread to our neighboring state of Ekiti. We thus need to be genuinely concerned because of the state’s proximity to Ondo State. The Sunshine State has been grappling with perennial Ebola virus outbreak in Akoko and Owo areas of the state. We cannot afford to add this to our challenges and should quickly nip it in the bud.
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; and inhalation, i.e., breathing in the spores. Addressing the disease is a herculean task.
VACCINATION is the most effective preventive measure against anthrax in livestock. We call on policy makers to take precautions by ensuring that necessary vaccines suitable for specific livestock are made available for those who are prone to be affected. The Hope commends the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for its quick intervention through the commencement of a risk based nationwide vaccination against the disease in Niger State and urged that it is extends to other states.
SINCE the disease is traced to cows, Government should pay more attention to abattoirs, especially by the veterinary department.Early detection and reporting of suspected anthrax cases in animals or humans is important for implementing effective control measures. Hence, owners of livestock farms must pay attention to proper hygiene through regular cleaning and disinfection of animal housing, feeding equipment, and water troughs. They should also embrace the use personal protective equipment (gloves, facemasks, goggles, boots) when handling sick animals and also ensure that they do not slaughter sick animals to prevent the exposure of anthrax spores which can be inhaled by humans which can further cause severe manifestations of the disease.
ALSO there should be regular monitoring of livestock for symptoms of sickness, and cases of animals bleeding from body openings must as a matter of urgency be reported to veterinary authorities, or agriculture extension workers. Sick animals should be isolated and strict quarantine measures implemented to prevent the spread of the disease to other animals or humans while cases of human exposures to animals with anthrax should be reported for the commencement of preventive treatment.