Anthrax Disease: Ogun Constitutes Emergency Operation Centre Against Outbreak

The Ogun State Government has taken proactive measures to safeguard public health against the contagious anthrax disease by sensitizing residents to the causes and prevention.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had on July 18 confirmed the first outbreak of an anthrax case in Nigeria in recent years and it was recorded in Niger State.

The Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria (CVON), Dr. Columba Vakuru, who announced it expressed concern over the case.

Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis and primarily affects animals including cattle, sheep, and goats, but it can also be transmitted to humans when in contact with infected animal or animal products.

Public health experts say the disease can occur in three main forms – cutaneous anthrax, inhalational anthrax, and gastrointestinal anthrax.

The suspected case was found in a multi–specie animal farm comprising of cattle, sheep and goats located at Gajiri along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway, Suleja, Niger State where some of the animals had symptoms, including oozing of blood from their body openings – anus, nose, eyes and ears.

Though Dr. Columba Vakuru said rapid response team from the federal and states government and a health professional team visited the farm to conduct preliminary investigations and collect samples from the sick animals, but the infected animals died afterwards.

“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 few weeks ago. All animals affected have died,” he said.

This has necessitated some proactive steps being taken equally by some states of the federation, including Plateau State which planned to vaccinate 4.3 million cattle to curb the spread of anthrax in the state.

Dr. Sipak Shase, director of Plateau State Ministry of Agriculture disclosed this to newsmen in Jos, saying the state government had already bought 200,000 doses of vaccines.

Similarly, in Ogun State, the Director of Veterinary Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Taiwo Jolaoso while briefing Information Officers on Tuesday during their statutory meeting in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, said the ministry would not rest on its oars at preventing the spread of the disease in the state.

Jolaoso explained that anthrax disease was a bacterium in animals such as cattle, sheep and goats, but could also infect humans who come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

According to Jolaoso, the state government was taking proactive measures to sensitise and safeguard the health and well-being of its citizenry.

He noted that the engagement with Information Officers was another step in that direction.

He pointed out that Anthrax Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) had been constituted to effectively detect, control and contain the disease against any outbreak, saying it was important to synergise with related agencies, to address public health challenges.

The director advised the public to cook livestock properly before eating, enjoining them to purchase all meat from registered slabs and report any suspected cases to the line ministries, including state and federal ministries of Agriculture, Health, Federal University of Agriculture or any other relevant agencies across the state.