The Nigerian government announced on Monday its plans to conduct a nationwide vaccination campaign for cattle, sheep, and goats due to a confirmed case of anthrax in Niger State. This development follows an earlier warning by the government regarding the outbreak of anthrax in neighboring countries within the West African sub-region.
Anthrax is a disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis, primarily affecting animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats. Humans can contract the disease through direct contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products, as well as through inhalation of spores or contact with contaminated materials.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) confirmed the presence of anthrax in Niger State after receiving reports of animals showing symptoms of the disease on a farm in Suleja. A rapid response team, including federal and state professionals, visited the farm to collect samples and conduct preliminary investigations. Laboratory tests at the National Veterinary Research Institute confirmed the diagnosis, marking the first recorded case of anthrax in Nigeria in recent years.
The FMARD, in collaboration with the Niger State Government, has implemented various measures to control and contain the outbreak. These measures include quarantining the affected farm, administering anthrax spore vaccines to in-contact animals, educating farm workers on symptoms and preventive measures, and planning nationwide vaccination campaigns for cattle, sheep, and goats. Additionally, surveillance of anthrax in livestock farms, markets, and abattoirs will be intensified, and public awareness campaigns will be strengthened.
Livestock owners are urged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious illnesses or deaths in their animals promptly. It is also advised to exercise caution when purchasing animals from neighboring states and countries. The government of Niger State has reassured the public that measures are in place to prevent the spread of the disease beyond the affected farm.
Experts in veterinary public health and preventive medicine emphasized that there is no need for panic, as anthrax is not airborne and spreads locally unless transported. They stressed the importance of veterinary professionals monitoring farms and encouraging farmers to report any abnormalities in their animals. The experts called for comprehensive vaccination of animals in the affected farm and its vicinity, expanded surveillance in related areas, appropriate burial procedures for infected animals, and caution against handling dead animals.
Regular and transparent communication between the government and the public is recommended as a priority during such situations. With sufficient veterinary manpower in Nigeria, the authorities are well-equipped to address the anthrax outbreak effectively.