The Federal Government has confirmed the first case of Anthrax in Nigeria after disclosing on Monday that the disease was detected in a farm in Niger State.
Making this known in a statement on Monday, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that it “is deeply concerned to announce the confirmation of an anthrax case in Niger State, Nigeria.”
It added that “On 14th of July, 2023 the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria was notified of animals manifesting symptoms of a suspected case of anthrax in a farm in Suleja, Niger State.
“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 and after the report of an outbreak of anthrax in Northern Ghana a few weeks ago.”
According to the statement, all animals affected have died.
The Ministry had a few weeks ago communicated the risk of incursion of Anthrax into the country, following confirmed outbreaks in Ghana and other countries in West Africa.
Anthrax is a major zoonotic disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which primarily affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats but can also infect humans, who come into direct contact with infected animals or consume contaminated animal products.
The disease can also be transmitted through contaminated pasture, feed and water.
The clinical signs of Anthrax in animals include sudden death and blood oozing from natural body openings (nose, ear, mouth and anal region).
The spores of anthrax can persist for decades in a contaminated environment.
The Federal Government said it has through the Ministry and in collaboration with the Niger state government, taken proactive measures to timely control and contain the disease.
Such measures include Quarantine of the affected farm; deployment of 50,000 doses of anthrax vaccines for ring vaccination of susceptible animals’ species around the infected farm; educating the farm workers using a One-health approach on the symptoms, preventive measures and what to do when they notice any sign of the disease.
Other measures include the finalization of the plan for state-wide vaccination of susceptible animals against anthrax and the intensification of passive surveillance activities in livestock farms, markets and abattoirs and others are heightening targeted public awareness campaigns on anthrax.
Also, the Ministry urged all livestock owners to remain vigilant and promptly report any suspicion of illness or deaths on their farms; avoid contact with sick or dead animals and their products and avoid slaughtering sick animals as slaughtering of sick animals can expose people to anthrax spores.
Livestock owners are also advised to avoid contact with wild animals and products such as ‘bush’ meat, report any incidence of the sudden death of animals to the nearest veterinary authorities, use personal protective equipment (gloves, facemasks, goggles, boots) when handling sick animals or dead animals, practice suitable biosecurity measures and dispose of all cases of animals in an environmentally friendly manner and in consultation with veterinarians, environmental and public health officers.