The Federal Government has confirmed the first case of anthrax in the country.
Anthrax is a severe bacterial disease that affects humans and animals, including wild animals and livestock such as cows, pigs, camels, sheep, and goats.
However, the government has outlined preventive measures for Nigerians and livestock owners to reduce the potential risk of infection and the spread of anthrax.
According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the case occurred on a farm in Suleja, Niger State.
A Rapid Response team comprising federal and state Health Professionals Team have visited the farm to conduct preliminary investigations and collected samples from the sick animals.
A statement by the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria, Dr Columba T. Vakuru, explained that 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.
It said: “The case was in a multi-specie animal farm comprising of cattle, sheep and goats located at Gajiri, along Abuja-Kaduna expressway Suleja LGA 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 state 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 statement reads in part.
According to the NCDC, the bacteria, which exist as spores, can be found in the soil, wool, or hair of infected animals, adding that it affects humans through eating and direct contact with infected animals and breathing in the spores, which is “the deadliest form of the disease.”
It noted that symptoms in animals include high fever, weakness, loss of appetite, bleeding from all body openings (nose, mouth, ears, anus etc.), swelling and difficulty in breathing and bloody diarrhoea.
The government had advised Nigerians to avoid all non-essential travel to the northern region of Ghana especially the Upper East Region where the outbreak was reported.
It noted that Nigerians should exercise caution when buying livestock – from states bordering Benin, Chad, and Niger, and from Ghana and Togo via waterways, adding that rams or cattle to be slaughtered for the festive period should be carefully observed for signs of sickness before slaughtering.
For livestock owners, it advised vaccination of the animals as the most effective preventive measure against anthrax.