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‘Stop Eating Ponmo,’ FG Warns Nigerians As Anthrax Disease Spreads In Ghana, Togo

‘Stop Eating Ponmo,’ FG Warns Nigerians As Anthrax Disease Spreads In Ghana, Togo 

Anthrax spreads by consuming infected animal products such as hides, skin, meat, or milk.

News Agency of Nigeria

The Federal Government has alerted the public on the outbreak of Anthrax disease in some neighboring countries within the West African sub-region.

Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, announced this in a statement in Abuja on Monday.

He said that the affected areas are Northern Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.

Umakhihe said that the disease which had claimed some lives is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and man.

He said that Anthrax spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals.

Umakhihe said that people could get infected with Anthrax spores if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

He said the disease is not contagious as one cannot get it by coming in close contact with an infected person.

“Signs of anthrax are flu- like symptoms such as cough, fever and muscle aches,” he said.

He said that if not diagnosed and treated early, it will lead to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty breathing, shock, and death.

The permanent secretary said that anthrax is a bacterial disease that responds to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy.

“It is primarily a disease of animals but because of man’s closeness to animals, unvaccinated animals with anthrax can easily be transmitted to man through the inhalation of anthrax spores.

“It could also be through consumption of contaminated or infected animal products, such as hides and skin, meat or milk,” he said.

He said annual vaccinations with anthrax spores are available at the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Plateau.

He said that it is the cheapest and easiest means of preventing and controlling the disease in animals, adding that infected animals cannot be vaccinated, but animals at risk can be vaccinated.

“There is a need to intensify animal vaccinations along border states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos, because of their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana,” he said.

Umakhihe urged other states in Nigeria to join in the exercise to prevent the spread of the disease.

He advised that infected dead animals should be buried deep into the soil, with equipment used in the burial after applying chemicals that would kill the anthrax spores.

“The public is strongly advised to desist from the consumption of hides (ponmo), smoked meat and bush meat as they pose serious risk until the situation is brought under control,” he said.

Umakhihe urged the public to remain calm and vigilant as the Federal Government has resuscitated a Standing Committee on controlling Anthrax.

He said relevant institutions and collaborators had been contacted to control the outbreak.

“This is in addition to the sensitisation of State Directors of Veterinary Services nationwide,” he said.

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