The Nigerian government has issued a statement regarding the heightened risk of an anthrax outbreak in the country, based on a risk assessment conducted by the human health sector. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) jointly released the information. They emphasized that the potential impact of the disease on humans is significant. In response, the government has activated an incident management system at level two and appointed an incident manager to ensure effective coordination of the response.
Recently, FMARD confirmed a single case of anthrax disease in a mixed livestock farm located in Niger State. This marks the first reported animal case in Nigeria since the outbreak began in Ghana in June 2023. The FMARD reported sudden deaths of livestock on July 13, 2023, with symptoms including bleeding from external orifices without blood clotting. Samples were collected from various species on July 14, 2023, and tested positive for anthrax at the National Veterinary Research Institute in Plateau State.
The government is conducting further investigations to trace the source of the infection and identify potential spread to other farms and humans. Although human exposure has been reported, there are no current reports of human symptoms or fatalities.
The FMARD and NCDC are collaborating with the Niger State Ministries of Health and Agriculture to identify, isolate, and monitor all individuals who have been exposed.
Anthrax is a severe disease caused by Bacillus anthracis bacteria, which can affect both humans and animals, including livestock and wild animals. The bacteria can exist as spores in the soil, wool, or hair of infected animals and are resistant to extreme conditions, making disease control challenging. The spores can be brought to the surface by wet weather, digging, or when consumed by grazing animals. Anthrax can affect humans through skin infections, gastrointestinal exposure, or inhalation.
The government assures that measures have been implemented to detect, control, and contain any potential anthrax outbreak in Nigeria, involving the FMARD, NCDC, and other relevant stakeholders in the one-health approach.