Lagos Vaccinates 12,000 Cows As Vet Dr. Jolaosho Warns Of Anthrax Threat To Nigerian Consumers

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A veteran Vet Doctor and ECOWAS Consultant has warned that the scourge of Anthrax and other animal-to-man transmitted (zoonotic-transmitted) diseases was real in Nigeria and was likely to spread if players in the meat value chain failed to take appropriate and prompt action.

Dr. Ade Jolaosho spoke in Lagos on Wednesday at a Workshop on “Communicable Diseases Between Animals And Humans With Special Reference To Anthrax (Guide for Butchers, Meat and slaughter by-product handlers on Current Situation, Prevention And Control),” which kicked off at the Johnson Agiri Centre in Agege.

Present at the occasion was the Commissioner of Agriculture in Lagos State, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, and the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Olatokunbo Emokpae.

(FROM RIGHT) Lagos State Commissioner of Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, and the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Olatokunbo Emokpae, at the workshop on “Communicable Diseases between Animals and Humans with Special Reference to Anthrax,” at the Johnson Agiri Centre in Agege, on Wednesday.

Olusanya said that about 12,000 animals had so far been vaccinated against Anthrax in Lagos, while encouraging butchers and slaughter slab operators to give vet doctors access to inspect animals before and after slaughter.

The programme is scheduled to hold for 14 days, hosted by the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture in Ikeja, Epe, Badagry, Lagos Mainland and Ikorodu. 

Running under the theme, “Communicable Diseases Between Animals And Humans With Special Reference To Anthrax,” the workshop has as participants Butchers, Animal Handlers, Farmers, Animal By-Product Handlers and others who stand the risk of primary contact with Anthrax, with the danger of spreading the disease to animal protein patrons and consumers.

According to Jolaosho, who has a track record of over 42 years in vet practice, other Zoonotic infections currently endemic in Nigeria were: Brucella Abortus, Bovine Tuberculosis, Trypanosomiasis, Toxoplasmosis, Taeniasis (Tapeworms), Rabies, Lassa and Yellow Fever. 

“However, in view of recent outbreaks/discoveries in especially Niger and Lagos states of Nigeria, we shall concentrate on ANTHRAX, a bacteria zoonosis derived mainly from ruminants for the purpose of these workshops,” the veteran vet said.  

Speaking to workshop participants about the Anthrax scourge, Jolaosho said that: “Initial outbreak was identified in Talensi and Binduri, both in the Upper East Region of nearby Ghana in June 2023.

“Nigeria reported its first anthrax outbreak (Index case) on Monday, July 17. This was a case of Anthrax disease in a mixed livestock farm in Niger State that was confirmed on July 16, 2023, by the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI)-Vom, Plateau State. 

“Here in Lagos state, we have confiscated, burnt and buried six animals infected with Anthrax in July to prevent its spread. No case of human infection has either been identified or reported since then.”

According to him, to curb the outbreak, preventive measures would include improving awareness about Anthrax among animal and animal-product handlers and better case definition among healthcare professionals and the provision of adequate surveillance and reporting systems and understanding the consequences of Ingestion of undercooked meat contaminated with anthrax spores.”

Speaking of symptoms to watch out for, Jolaosho said:

  • Cattle and sheep with Anthrax could generally die suddenly. 
  • Blood may be present around all body natural openings (nose, mouth and anus)
  • Blood from the animal not clotting
  • Carcass is bloated more than usual 
  • There is quick deterioration of the meat from the carcass 
  • Pre-death animals may show sudden signs of high fever, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, confusion or dizziness, cough and drenching sweats.

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