Livestock farmers alerted on charcoal anthrax disease


Livestock farmers, owners, butchers, traders, and consumers have been placed on red alert, especially this festive season, on the prevalence of Charcoal Anthrax disease, which predominantly affects livestock.     Though first detected outside the country, Niger Republic to be precise, Nigerians have been put on alert, as a large chunk of livestock consumed in the country is imported from neighbouring countries.


Given the supply of cattle and sheep from Niger Republic to Nigeria, there is an urgent need for precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease through the land borders, as more livestock comes into the country daily.


Two weeks ago, the Lagos State Government drew the attention of stakeholders in the livestock sub-sector to this threat, during a meeting with the Sheep and Goat Farmers Association.
On December 12, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) also raised the alarm on the likely outbreak of the disease. This was contained in a memo with reference NCS/ENF/ABJ/033/S.114/VOLIII signed by Dimka V. D, the Comptroller (Enforcement), to zonal coordinators, customs area coordinators, comptrollers and zonal commanders headquarters strike force.
The Customs said it got the information about the threat after it received a report from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and forwarded to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), on the outbreak of the bacterial infection.
Reports have it that the disease, first reported on September 23 in the border country, has caused the death of 22 cattle, with over 100 already infected.


The Charcoal Anthrax is an infectious zoonotic disease of livestock manifesting either on the skin, as a scratch progressing into a sepsis or as a pulmonary infection contracted by inhalation of the causative micro-organisms.   Anthrax usually appears during the warmer months, like the dry season. It is caused by the spore-forming bacteria Bacillus anthracis and can affect humans and a wide range of animals, particularly cattle and sheep.   According to veterinary experts, the disease occurs directly or indirectly through contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.
One of the proven signs of infection in livestock is that animals die suddenly. Just prior to death, animals may show signs of high fever. Blood may be present around the nose, mouth and anus of carcasses.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), anthrax could cause problems in the skin (cutaneous anthrax), digestive system (gastrointestinal anthrax) or in the lungs (inhalational anthrax).