Director General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Prof. Babatunde Salako, has urged the government to support vaccination for animals and their handlers to curb the spread of anthrax.
Salako, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Wednesday, warned that paying attention to live stocks and their handlers would prevent transmission of the disease.
The Federal Government on 17 July confirmed the index case of Anthrax disease in the country.
Anthrax is primarily a zoonotic disease in herbivores caused by a bacterium called Bacillus anthracis which affects animals such as cattle, sheep and goats.
Anthrax disease can also infect humans who come in direct contact with infected animals or consume contaminated animal products.
The NIMR boss advised that livestock and their handlers be given attention while the public is taught how to prevent the spread of the disease.
“Veterinary doctors should be more proactive in the treatment of cases and inspection of animals for public consumption.
“Vaccination for animals and people targeting those at risk will greatly reduce the spread of the disease, morbidity and mortality resulting from it.
“The government should support those in animal husbandry to access vaccine for their stock and help farmers who in the course of the epidemic may lose their stock to prevent catastrophic economic loss,” he said.
The director-general further said that disease surveillance was also key, especially among animals in transit.
He urged the Nigeria Centre Disease Control (NCDC) and the Ministry of Agriculture to cooperate and coordinate public health response and achieve synergy for impact.
According to him, the country has the capacity to receive and process samples for diagnosis.
“Although diagnosis is simple, we reconfirm the readiness and capacity of laboratories around the country to receive and process samples for diagnosis.
“NCDC should come out with clear instructions on how to handle infected animals and people, more awareness among the public about the symptoms and signs should be intensified through the media,’’ he said.
Salako advised Nigerians to adhere strictly to all guidelines from the Ministry of Health and the NCDC to curb the spread of anthrax.