FG Raises Alarm over Anthrax Outbreak; Urges Nigerians to Avoid Consuming 'Pomo'

Obiaks News - In a significant development, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) issued a warning on Monday concerning the outbreak of Anthrax, a bacterial disease, in the West African sub-region. The government urged Nigerians to refrain from consuming 'pomo' until further notice.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) took the lead in alerting the public about the presence of Anthrax in neighboring countries, specifically Northern Ghana, which shares borders with Burkina Faso and Togo.

Dr. Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary of FMARD, emphasized that Anthrax is a zoonotic disease, affecting both animals and humans. He explained that the disease is caused by bacterial spores naturally found in the soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals.

Umakhihe highlighted that humans can contract Anthrax if they come into contact with infected animals or consume contaminated animal products. However, he assured the public that Anthrax is not a contagious disease and cannot be transmitted from person to person.

Typical symptoms of Anthrax include flu-like manifestations such as cough, fever, and muscle aches. If left undiagnosed and untreated, the disease can progress to pneumonia, severe lung complications, breathing difficulties, shock, and even death.

Umakhihe emphasized that prompt treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy can effectively address Anthrax infections. He further explained that while Anthrax primarily affects animals, humans can be at risk due to their close proximity to animals, particularly non-vaccinated ones. The inhalation of Anthrax spores or the consumption of contaminated animal products like hides, skin, meat, or milk can result in transmission.

To prevent and control the disease, Umakhihe recommended annual vaccinations for animals using Anthrax spore vaccines available at the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Plateau State. He emphasized that while infected animals cannot be vaccinated, it is crucial to vaccinate animals at risk.

Given the current situation, the FMARD emphasized the need to intensify animal vaccinations along the border states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos due to their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo, and Ghana. Additionally, all other states in Nigeria are strongly advised to participate in the vaccination efforts.

Umakhihe advised the proper disposal of infected animal carcasses by burying them deeply in the soil and treating the burial equipment with chemicals that can kill Anthrax spores.

However, he issued a stern warning to the general public, strongly advising against the consumption of hides (pomo), smoked meat, and bush meat, as these items pose a serious health risk until the situation is brought under control.

Assuring the public of proactive measures, Umakhihe revealed that the Federal Government has reactivated the Standing Committee on the Control of Anthrax within the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The committee is actively engaging relevant institutions and collaborators to effectively control the outbreak. Additionally, State Directors of Veterinary Services nationwide have been sensitized to the situation, ensuring a coordinated response to safeguard animal and human health.

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