The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it is in receipt of a report confirming the outbreak of charcoal anthrax, a bacterial infection that affects cattle and sheep, in Niger Republic.
The service announced this in a memo dated December 12 and directed to zonal coordinators, customs area coordinators, comptrollers and zonal commanders headquarters strike force.
It said urgent steps need to be taken to prevent the spread of the disease through the land borders “given the supply of cattle and sheep from Niger to Nigeria”.
What is charcoal anthrax?
Charcoal anthrax is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis.
The infection can be transmitted to humans through direct or indirect contact with infected animals or animal products. Those at a high risk of contracting the disease include people who work with animals or animal products, travelers, postal workers, and military personnel.
It can occur in four forms: skin, lungs, intestinal, and injection. Symptoms begin between one day and two months after the infection is contracted. The skin form presents with a small blister with surrounding swelling that often turns into a painless ulcer with a black center.
The inhalation form presents with fever, chest pain, and shortness of breath while the intestinal form presents with diarrhea which may contain blood, abdominal pains, and nausea and vomiting. The injection form presents with fever and an abscess at the site of drug injection.
According to the memo, the Nigerien ministry of agriculture and livestock has informed the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) of the outbreak.
It said the disease was first reported in Niger Republic on September 23 where over 100 cattle have been infected with 22 deaths recorded.
“Headquarters is in receipt of a report which reveals that the Nigerien Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock had notified World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) of an outbreak of Charcoal Anthrax disease, Bacterium Bacillus Anthracis variant, in sheep and cattle in the country,” the memo read.
“The infectious Anthrax agent bacteria can survive for several years in the soil before being ingested by grazing animals. The disease was first reported In Niger’s Tillaberry region on 23rd September 2019 where it killed three (3) cattle. Since then over 100 cattle have been infected with 22 recorded deaths. Transmission to humans occurs directly or indirectly from infected animals or due to occupational exposure to contaminated animal products.
“The disease manifest either as a scratch that could progress into a sepsis or as pulmonary infection due to inhalation of micro-organisms suspended in the air without immediate ‘treatment Charcoal Anthrax is fatal in 20% of cases.
“Given the supply of cattle and sheep from Niger to Nigeria the CGC has directed on the urgent need to place additional precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease into Nigeria through our land borders.”
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