Avoid Consuming ‘Ponmo’ and Bush Meat
Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), recently addressed the case of anthrax discovered in a farm in Niger State. In an interview, he emphasized the importance of refraining from eating animal hides, known as “ponmo,” bush meat, and dead animals that were not properly slaughtered.
According to Adetifa, the anthrax case in Niger State is a cause for concern and qualifies as an outbreak. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development swiftly responded to reports of ill and dead animals, diagnosing anthrax within 48 hours. Remedial measures were taken to ensure the safe disposal of infected animals and their products.
The DG further explained that anthrax, a disease affecting both humans and animals, can be transmitted through exposure to contaminated soil or infected animals. He highlighted the possibility of other cases in neighboring states due to animal movement during religious festivities.
Adetifa urged animal owners in the region to report sick or dead animals immediately to veterinary services to prevent further spread of the disease. He clarified that herders generally care deeply for their animals and are likely to seek help when animals show signs of illness.
Anthrax, a naturally occurring bacterium, can persist in the environment for extended periods. Efforts to contain the outbreak include ring vaccination of animals in the affected area and tracking contacts to provide preventive treatment for humans.
In light of the confirmed anthrax case, the NCDC warns against consuming meat from sick or dead animals. This applies to ‘ponmo’ and bush meat, as anthrax can be present in the skin, hair, and meat of infected animals. The agency advises increased vigilance while purchasing meat products and encourages animal owners to have their livestock properly inspected by veterinary services.
Regarding nationwide vaccination of livestock against anthrax, Adetifa clarified that the NCDC does not handle animal-related matters. The responsibility lies with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and its veterinary and pest control services. Animal owners are encouraged to work with local public health veterinarians to arrange routine immunization for their livestock.
The focus now is on containing the outbreak and promoting the responsible use of available public health veterinary services to safeguard animals and prevent further transmission of the disease.