The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has cautioned Nigerians to exercise vigilance in light of the recent anthrax outbreak, a potentially fatal disease that can be transmitted from infected animals or contaminated products.
The director-general of NBMA, Dr. Agnes Asagbra issued this call to action in a press statement released on June 13, 2023. She emphasised that anthrax is a severe infectious disease caused by a spore-forming bacterium, primarily affecting livestock such as cattle, sheep, and goats. Furthermore, she warned that humans can contract the disease through contact with infected animals or by inhaling spores. Asagbra highlighted that cases of human transmission have already been reported in Ghana and urged Nigerians to exercise caution. “Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by germs that can spread from animals to humans,” she stated.
The general public is advised to avoid direct contact with sick or deceased animals, particularly those showing symptoms associated with anthrax. Farmers, herders and individuals involved in animal husbandry are urged to exercise extra care and seek veterinary assistance if they observe any signs of illness in their livestock.
If left unidentified and untreated, anthrax can lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, breathing difficulties, shock, and even death. Symptoms of anthrax include flu-like signs such as coughing, fever and muscle aches.
Proper hygiene practices should be followed when handling and processing animal products. “It is recommended to wear protective clothing, such as gloves, when handling raw animal hides. Hands and equipment should be thoroughly washed with soap and water after contact with animal products,” emphasised the DG.
Asagbra also stressed the importance of thoroughly cooking animal products at high temperatures to eliminate any potential bacteria, as anthrax can survive in improperly processed animal products. She further implored all stakeholders in the food and agricultural industry to prioritise safety measures and adhere to biosafety regulations in order to safeguard the health of the citizens.
In a statement released by the head of the media unit at the agency, Gloria Ogbaki, Asagbra reaffirmed NBMA’s commitment to collaborating with relevant stakeholders to ensure the safety and well-being of all Nigerians. She urged the public to remain vigilant and report any suspected cases of anthrax or contaminated animal products to the nearest medical center. “It is crucial for all Nigerians to stay calm yet vigilant. By adhering to these precautionary measures, we can collectively mitigate the risks associated with the anthrax outbreak and protect the health of both animals and humans.”