Anthrax disease: FG Warns Against The Consumption Of Ponmo, Bushmeat

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued a warning to Nigerians regarding the consumption of hides (ponmo), smoked meat, and bush meat. This caution comes as a result of an Anthrax outbreak in neighboring countries. Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, emphasized the need to inform Nigerians about the current spread of Anthrax in Northern Ghana, which shares borders with Burkina Faso and Togo.

Dr. Umakhihe explained that Anthrax is transmitted from infected animals to humans, as the spores naturally exist in the soil and commonly affect both domestic and wild animals. While people can contract Anthrax spores through contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products, it is not a contagious disease.

The symptoms of Anthrax resemble those of the flu and may include cough, fever, and muscle aches. If not diagnosed and treated promptly, the disease can progress to pneumonia, severe respiratory issues, difficulty breathing, shock, and ultimately, death.

He said, “The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development hereby alerts the general public on the outbreak of Anthrax in some neighbouring Countries within the West African Sub-Region; specifically, Northern Ghana Bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.

“The disease, which has claimed some lives, is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and man, that is a zoonotic disease. Anthrax spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild Animals.

“People can get infected with Anthrax spores if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products. However, Anthrax is not a contagious disease and so, one cannot get it by coming in close contact with an infected person.

“Signs of Anthrax are flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, muscle aches and if not diagnosed and treated early, lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty in breathing, shock and death.

“Being a bacterial disease, it responds to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy.

“The general public is strongly advised to desist from the consumption of hides (pomo), smoked meat and bush meat as they pose serious risks until the situation is brought under control.

“Meanwhile, the public is urged to remain calm and vigilant as the Federal Government has resuscitated a Standing Committee on the Control of Anthrax in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“Furthermore, relevant institutions and collaborators have been contacted with the aim of controlling the outbreak. This is in addition to the sensitization of State directors of veterinary services nationwide.”

Umakhihe added that Anthrax is primarily an animal disease; however, due to the close interaction between humans and animals, non-vaccinated animals that become infected can transmit the disease to humans through inhalation of Anthrax spores or by consuming contaminated/infected animal products like hides, skin, meat, or milk.

Additionally, the Permanent Secretary urged the border states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos to enhance the vaccination of animals, particularly considering their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo, and Ghana.

“However, infected animals cannot be vaccinated but animals at risk can be vaccinated. So in this present case, there is a need to intensify animal vaccinations along border states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos because of their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana. Other states of Nigeria are equally advised to join in the exercise.

“Infected dead animals should be buried deep into the soil along with equipment used in the burial after applying chemicals that will kill the Anthrax spores,” he said.

Nevertheless, he revealed that the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Plateau State, offers annual vaccinations using anthrax spore vaccines. These vaccines are the most affordable and convenient method for preventing and controlling the disease in animals.

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