PRO/EAFR> Anthrax – Nigeria: alert


A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

In this report:
[1] Increased surveillance
[2] Kwara state public health advisory on anthrax

[1] Increased surveillance
Date: Tue 13 Jun 2023
Source: VON [edited]

A Professor of Public Health, Prof. Tanimola Akande, has called for
effective veterinary and human health surveillance systems to prevent
the outbreak of anthrax disease in the country. Akande, Consultant
Public Health Physician, Department of Epidemiology and Community
Health, University of Ilorin, made the call in an interview on Tuesday
[13 Jun 2023] in Lagos.

He said that integrated surveillance was critical at the human-animal
interface for rapid detection and response to emerging infections
using One Health approach. According to him, zoonotic diseases are
global health threats, saying that an effective One Health approach
was critical to improve the health of people, animals (pets,
livestock, and wildlife), plants, and the environment.

“By protecting one, we help protect all; we must ensure all animals
are healthy; unhealthy animals should be properly treated. Usually at
abattoirs, animals are supposed to be assessed by veterinarians to
ensure they don’t have diseases, if that is done, the chances of
humans getting infected with anthrax are reduced. However, our
vigilance and surveillance should be heightened because it’s not all
animals that are slaughtered at abattoirs,” he said.

He said that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
(FMARD); Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control
(NCDC) should strengthen collaboration and vigilance to check the
outbreak. Akande commended the public health advisory to Nigerians to
stop consumption of hides (ponmo), saying it was a timely measure
that’s crucial during epidemics. The professor noted that the
consumption of hides poses a serious risk until the situation was
brought under control.

The FMARD on 12 Jun 2023 alerted Nigerians of the outbreak of anthrax
disease within the West African sub-region, specifically, northern
Ghana bordering Burkina Faso and Togo. The government advised
Nigerians against the consumption of hides (ponmo), smoked meat and
bushmeat, to avoid possible spread.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a billion cases of
illnesses and millions of deaths are due to diseases or infections
transmitted from animals to humans yearly. WHO defines anthrax as
primarily zoonotic disease in herbivores caused by a bacterium called
Bacillus anthracis.

It said that humans generally acquire the disease directly or
indirectly from infected animals, or through occupational exposure to
infected or contaminated animal products. The health agency said that
anthrax in humans was not generally regarded as contagious, although
rare records of person-to-person transmission exist. It said that
anthrax bacteria can survive in the environment for decades by forming

[Byline: Oyenike Oyeniyi]

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