Women health

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, or NCDC, is Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa. Adetifa insists that people should avoid eating animal hides, also known as ponmo, bush meat, and dead animals "you did not kill" in this interview as she discusses the instance of anthrax discovered in a farm in Niger State.

What would you say about the situation in Niger State? Is there an epidemic?

We are concerned about any anthrax cases, including the current outbreak. When word of sick and dead animals reached our colleagues in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, they went to investigate. A diagnosis of anthrax was made within 48 hours, and appropriate corrective action was taken to guarantee the safe disposal of the animals and products.

Recalling the merchandise that was processed in the plant also got under way. Because this illness affects both humans and animals, we were alerted to take care of the human health component. Because of this, we're taking a one-health

What is the extent?

Every illness frequently begins with an index case. You might be familiar with that instance at times, and you might see other cases that are related to it.

Since there was a lot of animal movement in preparation for the most recent holy feast, Ileya, this is the first animal with which we have diagnosed the disease. However, it is probable that there are other animals as well.

Particularly for animals that were brought in across borders, it is feasible that infected animals from regions of the region where anthrax has previously been detected may have found their way into the nation.

All pet owners who live close to this farm and elsewhere who may have sick or deceased animals, or animals that have been killed but the blood did not clot, are advised to contact veterinary services right once because this is most certainly a case of animal anthrax.

Is it conceivable that anthrax has not yet been found by you and your colleagues in other states?

As with anything else, this is conceivable. Yes, it is conceivable that there could be further situations if you're talking about theoretical possibilities. We can only respond to what we know, and as a part of that, we can sensitize people to raise the bar for reporting when they see animals that are suspicious-looking so that veterinary public service can intervene and make a diagnosis where it is necessary; then, as soon as we have the animal's disease confirmed, we can link the human health actions to it.

What we can do right now is engage with the public health officials in Niger State to ensure that we obtain a comprehensive list of the contacts of the animals in Niger State in order to put them on preventive treatment to ensure that they do not contract anthrax.

That might be an unfair generalization, in my opinion, to some extent. Although they are occasionally accused of considering their livestock more important than themselves, herders really care for their livestock. If this illness caused animal deaths, it would have an impact on the livelihood of livestock managers or herders.

The financial losses are enormous, and those who care for animals frequently report or seek assistance when their pets begin to deteriorate. An whole herd can be wiped off by anthrax if precautions are not taken.

If you consider the hypothetical scenario, herders might be in extremely remote areas when problems arise before they can report them or seek assistance, but if they do, veterinary services are set up with vaccines to stop more animals from perish. Herders will report to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development rather than the NCDC.

A ministry of livestock is also present in several states. In most jurisdictions, there is a relationship between those who work in animal husbandry and veterinary services.

When animals start to die, it becomes an economic problem for those who care for them, and they attempt to report the deaths and determine the cause. We want to encourage individuals to alert animal and human health authorities if they come across sick or dead animals.

They should report if they have access to human health authorities so that they can alert their colleagues in animal health to the situation and persuade them to take action. Please report human or animal health authorities as soon as you encounter sick or dead animals in Nigeria that don't appear to have been murdered by anyone, and avoid handling or touching them.

How do you suppose anthrax arrived so suddenly and unexpectedly?

Nature contains anthrax. It can exist in forms that are extremely resistant to climatic or other harsh conditions and can endure in the soil for decades thanks to the bacteria. Anthrax is caused by a naturally existing bacteria. They are typically exposed when people disturb the earth by digging, when animals are eating or grazing, or both.

Animals can contract this bacterium's infection if they consume or inhale its spores. There have been attempts to weaponize and employ naturally occurring microorganisms in terrorism acts in acknowledgment of this fact. Anthrax was not created as a bioweapon.

Is this bacteria indigenous to Nigeria if this is the first instance

Anthrax exists in the environment, as I have stated. Although we haven't seen a case of anthrax in decades, it has nonetheless happened in Nigeria. The mobility of animals who may be affected themselves is a common factor in epidemics when they do happen. There is a history in the chronology of the addition of new animals to the farm in the instance of this farm in Niger State. Existing animals appear to have contracted the virus after interacting, and they pass away. We have previously released an advisory and are aware that anthrax is present in the sub-region.

Anthrax cases have already been detected in portions of Togo and Northern Ghana. Herders roam the subregion, and when celebrations or other events result in a rise in the demand for livestock, there will be a large-scale importation from neighboring states. If infected, it may spread anthrax to a population of vulnerable animals. Animals are protected from anthrax through immunization. There are fewer anthrax cases in other areas with high vaccination rates among animals.

Is it a seasonal occurrence, and if so, how long will it last before it goes away?

There is no season for anthrax. It happens in the natural world. When an infected animal is imported and combines with a group of susceptible animals, it can expose susceptible animals to anthrax pores that may be present in the soil nearby where they are feeding.

The reaction establishes the reason of the incident. Veterinary and human public health interventions can be mounted as long as cases can be found when they occur. Within 48 hours of learning about the deaths of the animals in this instance, animal health surveillance identified the anthrax and made a diagnosis.

The farm's accessible meat products, including any dead animals, have all been safely disposed of. Meat items that may have left the property are now being recalled. Animals around this farm are vaccinated by ring vaccination to prevent unintentional spread. All contacts are being monitored for human health with the goal of treating them prophylactically to stop any subsequent human cases.

If each of those works, we will be in a better position to stop this outbreak. In order to swiftly ensure that an identification is made and the appropriate interventions are applied to prevent further dissemination and human transmission when possible, we are warning people outside of the Niger State and sensitizing healthcare workers to look out for human cases or animal cases.

How seriously do you think people should take eating "ponmo" or "bush meat"?

We are advising against eating any sick animals at all. Both sick and dead animals from anthrax are contaminated with the pathogen. Their skin, hair, and meat all contain anthrax. If the anthrax originates from a dead animal, those who work with skins and skin are at danger of contracting it. As of right now, when we have a proven case, we advise you to be cautious while purchasing meat.

If you enjoy eating bush meat, now could be a good time to stop, especially if you don't catch it yourself. We request that individuals and livestock be thoroughly scrutinized.

How well-coordinated is the agency's visit to slaughterhouses to deliver vaccines with state infectious diseases officers, and is there a risk of transmission from animals to people if there is contact during slaughter or trading?

Both humans and animals can contract the anthrax-causing bacteria. Although it is largely an animal illness, humans who come into contact with sick animals run the danger of contracting anthrax. It is a zoonotic disease, which by definition is an ailment that mostly affects animals but can also infect people. Anthrax satisfies the criteria.

Similar to COVID-19, it is a zoonotic disease that may have originated in animals before moving on to people. Lassa fever, monkeypox, and similar diseases are examples of zoonotic diseases. State ministries of agriculture and rural development or livestock are in charge of regulating abattoirs and the meat industry. Since they are responsible for regulating abattoirs inside states, they have complete access to them.

Our colleagues in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development are alerting these authorities, including the veterinary public health officers and veterinary services in respective states, to be on alert and educate the public and meat workers about the possibility of anthrax. The Senate recommended that your agency, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, as well as the Ministry of Health, should urgently launch a nationwide vaccination campaign.

We like the idea that the NCDC is described as being in charge of everything since it shows that the public and government have faith in the organization. We must emphasize that we do not care for animals, though. Our colleagues at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, specifically the veterinary and pest control services, are in charge of the animal sector. There are animal vaccines available in the nation; I believe they were created by the National Veterinary Research Institute.

Currently, the approach is to do ring vaccinations around suspected or verified patients. Vaccines are always available, and those who own animal farms or care for animals should get in touch with their neighborhood public health veterinarian to set up a vaccination schedule for their pets.

It is comparable to keeping a dog as a pet and taking it to the doctor to get the proper vaccinations. The vaccinations have consistently been accessible. Perhaps now that anthrax has been confirmed to exist in the nation, there will be a greater uptake.

To attempt and vaccinate all livestock in and around the country would be a massive undertaking, so how far the disease spreads will determine whether or not a widespread vaccination effort is necessary to combat it. Responding to the situation and enticing pet owners to use the public health veterinarian services on offer to plan for routine immunization of their livestock is more crucial at this time.


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