Anthrax outbreak: Stop eating ponmo, FG tells Nigerians



The Federal Government, on Monday, alerted the general public to the outbreak of anthrax disease in some neighbouring countries within the West African sub-region and advised Nigerians to desist from the consumption of hides, otherwise known as ponmo, at the moment.

It specifically stated that the disease was widespread in northern Ghana, bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.

It disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which was signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ernest Umakhihe.

The statement read in part, “The disease, which has claimed some lives, is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and man, that is a zoonotic disease. Anthrax spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals.

“People can get infected with anthrax spores if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products. However, anthrax is not a contagious disease, and so, one cannot get it by coming in close contact with an infected person.

“Signs of anthrax are flu- like symptoms such as cough, fever, muscle aches and if not diagnosed and treated early, leads to pneumonia, severe lung problems, difficulty in breathing, shock and death.”

The government explained that being a bacterial disease, it would respond to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy.

“It is primarily a disease of animals but because of man’s closeness to animals, non-vaccinated animals with anthrax can easily be transmitted to man through the inhalation of anthrax spores or consumption of contaminated/infected animal products, such as hides and skin, meat or milk.

“Annual vaccinations with anthrax spore vaccines are available at National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Plateau State, and is the cheapest and easiest means of prevention and control of the disease in animals.

“However, infected animals cannot be vaccinated but animals at risk can be vaccinated. So in this present case, there is the need to intensify animal vaccinations along Border states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos, because of their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana,” the government stated.

The agric ministry further noted that other states of Nigeria were equally advised to join in the exercise.

It said infected dead animals should be buried deep into the soil along with equipment used in the burial after applying chemicals that would kill the anthrax spores.

“The general public is strongly advised to desist from the consumption of hides (pomo), smoked meat and bush meat as they pose serious risk until the situation is brought under control,” the FMARD advised.

Meanwhile, it urged the public to remain calm and vigilant as the Federal Government had resuscitated a standing committee on the control of anthrax in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“Furthermore, relevant institutions and collaborators have been contacted with the aim of controlling the outbreak.

“This is in addition to the sensitization of state directors of veterinary services nationwide,” the government stated.

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