By Victor Anya
The Federal Government of Nigeria on Monday raised an alarm over the outbreak of a disease known as Anthrax, warning Nigerians to stop eating “pomo” for sometime.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) informed Nigerians that Anthrax is in some countries in West Africa: Northern Ghana, Togo and Burkina Faso.
The Permanent Secretary of FMARD, Dr. Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe explained in a statement that Anthrax which has killed some people is a bacterial disease that affects both human beings and animals which makes it a zoonotic disease.
“Anthrax spores are usually found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and Wild Animals,” Umakhihe revealed in the statement.
According to Umakhihe, people can be infected with anthrax spores if they come in contact with infected animals or polluted animal products.
Nevertheness, Umakhihe said that anthrax is not a contagious disease and one cannot get infected by coming in close contact with an infected person.
“Anthrax has the symptoms of flu like cough, fever, muscle aches and if not diagnosed and treated early, it could lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty in breathing, shock and death,” he said.
Umakhihe noted that anthrax as a bacterial disease can respond to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy.
He further stated that Anthrax is originally a disease of animals but due to closeness of man to animals, animals contaminated with anthrax can simply be transmitted to man through breathing in of anthrax spores or consumption of infected animal products like skins, meat or milk.
Umakhihe revealed that yearly vaccinations with anthrax spore vaccines are available at the National Veterinary Research Institute Vom, Plateau State and that it is the cheapest and easiest means of prevention and control of the disease in animals.
According to Umakhihe, there is the need to increased animal vaccinations in some states like Kwara, Kebbi, Oyo, Ogun, Niger and Lagos because of their closeness to Ghana, Togo and Burkina Faso.
In the statement, Umakhihe stated that infected dead animals should be buried along with the equipment used in the burial after applying chemicals that will kill the anthrax spores.
Meanwhile, he warned the general public to refrain from consuming hides (pomo), smoked meat and bush meat as they pose serious risk until the situation is brought under control.
Umakhihe urged the public to remain calm as the Federal Government has set up a Standing Committee on the Control of Anthrax in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
He added that relevant institutions have been contacted to control the outbreak and that there is sensitization of State Directors of Veterinary Services nationwide.