The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued a public alert regarding an outbreak of Anthrax disease in Northern Ghana, which shares borders with Burkina Faso and Togo. Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis and primarily affects animals, with the potential to transmit to humans. Precautions and immediate actions are crucial to prevent the spread of the disease and protect public health.
Anthrax is a bacterial infection that primarily affects livestock but can also be transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals or their products. Ingesting contaminated meat, handling wool, hides, or milk from infected animals, or inhaling Anthrax spores can lead to infection. While Anthrax is not contagious, individuals can acquire it through skin contact with contaminated soil or materials.
Anthrax presents in various forms and can initially resemble flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, and muscle aches. Without early diagnosis and treatment, the disease can progress to severe lung problems, pneumonia, difficulty breathing, shocks, and even death. Therefore, swift action is necessary to prevent its escalation.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, highlighted the states at higher risk due to their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo, and Ghana. Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos states are urged to intensify animal vaccinations as a preventive measure. Vaccinations against Anthrax spores are readily available at the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Plateau State, and remain the most cost-effective and accessible means of controlling the disease in animals.
Dr. Umakhihe also cautioned the public against the consumption of hides (known as “Ponmo” in Yoruba language), smoked meat, and bush meat, as they pose significant risks. These products should be avoided to prevent exposure to Anthrax-contaminated materials.
To address the outbreak, the Federal Government has reestablished a Standing Committee on Anthrax control within the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Additionally, relevant institutions and collaborators have been engaged to facilitate effective disease control. State directors of veterinary services across the country are also being sensitized to ensure coordinated efforts.