The Federal Government has alerted Nigerians to the outbreak of Anthrax disease in neighbouring countries within the West African sub-region.
Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, announced this in a statement in Abuja on Monday.
He said that the affected countries are, Northern Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.
Mr Umakhihe said that the disease, which had claimed some lives, is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and man.
He said that Anthrax spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals.
Mr Umakhihe said that people could get infected with Anthrax spores if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.
He said that the disease is not contagious one cannot get it by coming in close contact with an infected person.
“Signs of anthrax are, flu- like symptoms, such as cough, fever and muscle aches,” he said.
He said that if not diagnosed and treated early, it will lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty in breathing, shock and death.
The permanent secretary said that anthrax being a bacterial disease, responds to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy.
“It is primarily a disease of animals but because of man’s closeness to animals, non vaccinated animals with anthrax can easily be transmitted to man through the inhalation of anthrax spores.
“It could also be through consumption of contaminated or infected animal products, such as hides and skin, meat or milk,” he said.
He said annual vaccinations with anthrax spores are available at the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Plateau.
He said that it is the cheapest and easiest means of prevention and control of the disease in animals, adding that infected animals cannot be vaccinated, but animals at risk can be vaccinated.
“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.
Mr Umakhihe urged other states in Nigeria to join in the exercise to prevent the spread of the disease.
He 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.
“The public is strongly advised to desist from the consumption of hides (pomo), smoked meat and bush meat as they pose serious risk until the situation is brought under control,” he said.
Mr Umakhihe urged the public to remain calm and vigilant, adding that the federal government has resuscitated a Standing Committee on the control of Anthrax.
He said that relevant institutions and collaborators have been contacted with the aim of controlling the outbreak.