……Says contacts of Niger animal case being tracked to prevent human cases…….

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa says the case of anthrax discovered in a farm in Niger State, insisting that people should refrain from eating animal hides, also known as ponmo, bush meat and dead animals “you did not kill”.

In an interview, he said they are worried about any case of anthrax; one case as we have at the moment is an outbreak. In this case, our colleagues in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development received word of ill animals and dead animals and went to investigate. Within a 48-hour period, a diagnosis of anthrax was made and immediate remedial action to ensure safe disposal of the animals and products.

The process of recalling the product that was processed in the facility also started. We were notified to look after the human health aspect because this is a disease that crosses both the human and animal health divide. Therefore, we are taking a one-health approach to the response.

He advised all animal owners around this farm and beyond that may have animals that are sick or that have died or animals that have been slaughtered whose blood did not clot to notify veterinary services immediately because this is most likely a case of animal anthrax.

The economic losses are significant and people who look after animals tend to report or seek help when their animals start to die. Indeed, anthrax can wipe an entire herd when actions are not taken. If you are thinking about the theoretical possibility, herders may be in far remote places when things start to happen before they can report or seek help but once they do that, veterinary services are equipped with vaccines to prevent other animals from dying. Herders won’t be reporting to NCDC, they will be reporting to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Also, some states have a ministry of livestock. There is a connection between people in animal husbandry and veterinary services in most states.

It is an economic issue for people who look after animals and once they start to die, they try to report and find out why. What we hope to achieve is that anywhere people see acutely ill animals or animals dying, they should notify animal and human health authorities.

If they have access to human health authorities, they should please report because they can reach out to their animal health colleagues to sensitise them on the report received and get them to intervene. When Nigerians see sick animals or dead animals that don’t look like they have been killed by anyone, they should please notify human health or animal health authorities immediately and the animal should not be handled or touched.

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