The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has urged Nigerians to exercise caution following the recent outbreak of anthrax. The Director-General (D-G) of NBMA, Dr Agnes Asagbra, made the call in a statement issued by Mrs Gloria Ogbaki Head Information and Communication of the gency on Thursday in Abuja.
“Anthrax is a potentially fatal disease that can be contracted from infected animals or through contaminated products. Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by a spore-forming bacterium which mainly affects livestock particularly cattle, sheep and goats,”Asagbra said.
Asagbra said that humans can become infected through contact with an infected animal or by inhaling spores. She called on Nigerians to be cautious as cases of human transmission have been reported in Ghana. “The sickness, is a zoonotic disease caused by germs that may spread from animals to humans.”
Asagbra urged the general public to avoid direct contact with sick or dead animals especially those exhibiting symptoms associated with anthrax. She further urged farmers, herders and individuals involved in animal husbandry to take extra care and seek veterinary assistance if they suspect any sign of illness in their livestock.
“If anthrax is not identified and treated promptly, it can cause pneumonia, serious lung issues, breathing difficulties, shock, and death. Symptoms of anthrax include flu-like symptoms like coughing, fever, and muscular aches,” Asagbra noted. She said proper hygiene practices should be followed when handling and processing animal products.
“It is recommended to wear protective clothing, such as gloves, when handling raw animal hides. Thoroughly wash hands and equipment with soap and water after contact with animal products.” She said.
The D-G said anthrax can survive in improperly processed animal products and urged the public to ensure that animal products are thoroughly cooked at high temperatures to eliminate any potential bacteria.
“We also implore all stakeholders in the food and agricultural industry to prioritise safety measures and adhere to biosafety regulations in order to safeguard the health of our citizens.”
Asagbra said the agency remains committed to working with relevant stakeholders to ensure the safety and well-being of all Nigerians. Similarly, she further urged the public to remain vigilant and report any suspected cases of anthrax or contaminated animal products to the nearest medical centre.
“It is crucial for all Nigerians to remain calm but vigilant. By adhering to these precautionary measures, we can collectively mitigate the risks associated with the anthrax outbreak and protect both animal and human health,” she assured.
NAN reports that the federal government alerted Nigerians on Monday to the outbreak of Anthrax disease in neighbouring countries within the West African sub-region. The federal government said that the affected countries are, Northern Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.
The government said there is a need to intensify animal vaccinations along border States of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos states, because of their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana,” he said.
The government also urged other states in Nigeria to join in the exercise to prevent the spread of the disease. Government advised that infected dead animals should be buried deep into the soil, with equipment used in the burial after applying chemicals that would kill the anthrax spores.