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NBMA Cautions As FG Confirms First Case Of Anthrax In Nigeria

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Anthrax Bacteria

The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has cautioned Nigerians in the wake of a reported case of anthrax on a farm in Suleja, Niger State, close to the Federal Capital Territory.

The director-general, NBMA, Dr. Agnes Asagbra issued the warning through a press statement provided to journalists on Tuesday, July 18, 2023. According to the statement, there have been reports of animals displaying symptoms suggestive of anthrax at Gajiri along the Abuja-Kaduna motorway in Suleja LGA, Niger State. Some of these symptoms include blood flowing from various openings in their bodies, such as their noses, eyes, ears and mouths.

Asagbra clarified that the case occurred on a multi-species farm housing cattle, sheep and goats. The Federal Government promptly sent a response team to the farm, where samples were collected and subsequently tested. The results confirmed the presence of anthrax, making this the first recorded case of anthrax in Nigeria in recent years.

In light of the situation, the NBMA is urging the general public to avoid direct contact with sick or deceased animals, especially those showing symptoms associated with anthrax. Farmers, herders, and individuals involved in animal husbandry are also advised to exercise extra care and seek veterinary assistance if they observe any signs of illness in their livestock.

The agency had previously issued a warning on June 13, 2023, after receiving reports of an anthrax outbreak in northern Ghana, where all infected animals had perished. Anthrax is a severe infectious disease caused by a spore-forming bacterium that primarily affects livestock, particularly cattle, sheep, and goats. Humans can contract the disease through contact with infected animals or by inhaling spores, making it a zoonotic disease that can spread from animals to humans.

The consequences of anthrax can be grave if not promptly identified and treated. It may lead to pneumonia, serious lung issues, breathing difficulties, shock and even death. Common symptoms of anthrax include flu-like manifestations such as coughing, fever, and muscular aches.

To prevent infection, it is crucial to practice proper hygiene when handling and processing animal products. This includes wearing protective clothing like gloves and thoroughly washing hands and equipment with soap and water after contact with animal products. Moreover, the NBMA advises ensuring that animal products are thoroughly cooked at high temperatures to eliminate any potential bacteria.

The agency emphasises the need for all stakeholders in the food and agricultural industry to prioritize safety measures and adhere to biosafety regulations, thus safeguarding the health of citizens. NBMA reaffirms its commitment to working with relevant stakeholders to ensure the safety and well-being of all Nigerians. They urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspected cases of anthrax or contaminated animal products to the nearest medical center.

In these trying times, remaining calm but vigilant is crucial. By following these precautionary measures, we can collectively mitigate the risks associated with the anthrax outbreak and protect both animal and human health.

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