The first case of anthrax in Nigeria has been officially confirmed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, according to an announcement made on Monday.
The Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria, Dr. Columba T. Vakuru, signed a statement revealing that animals exhibiting symptoms potentially indicative of anthrax were reported on a farm in Suleja, Niger State, on July 14, 2023.
The statement stated, “The case was observed in a multi-species animal farm consisting of cattle, sheep, and goats located at Gajiri, along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway in Suleja LGA, Niger State. Some of the animals displayed symptoms such as blood oozing from various body openings including the anus, nose, eyes, and ears.”
A Rapid Response team, comprising professionals from the federal and state One Health departments, visited the farm to conduct initial investigations and collected samples from the affected animals. Laboratory tests performed at the National Veterinary Research Institute confirmed the diagnosis, marking the first recorded case of anthrax in recent years in Nigeria.
Earlier, the federal government had issued a warning to Nigerians following reports of an anthrax outbreak in Northern Ghana, where all infected animals had died.
Anthrax is a disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus. Although it primarily affects livestock such as cattle, sheep, and goats, it can also infect humans who come into contact with contaminated animal products, including meat, wool, or skins. Skin contact with contaminated objects or inhalation of airborne spores can lead to anthrax transmission.
The statement urged Nigerians to promptly report cases of animals experiencing bleeding from body openings to veterinary authorities or agricultural extension workers.
“The blood of an anthrax-infected animal does not clot. Do not handle or move the dead or sick animal, and report the incident immediately to your veterinary doctor or the ministry of agriculture in your state,” the statement emphasized.