The Senate has urged the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Federal Ministry of Health to urgently embark on a nationwide livestock vaccination campaign using anthrax spore vaccine.
It specifically urged the agencies to focus more on vaccinating livestock in the border states of the country, as fears of the disease spreading were rife.
The Senate’s resolutions were made following the consideration and adoption of a motion at the plenary on Wednesday, titled “Call to Address the Low Level of Awareness and Preparedness to Prevent the Outbreak of Anthrax in Nigeria.”
The motion was sponsored by Sen. Ezenwa Francis (LP-Imo).
Ezenwa, in his lead debate, mentioned that there had been an outbreak of anthrax disease, a deadly zoonotic bacterium, in countries across the ECOWAS region, including Ghana and Togo.
He stated that on June 12, the Federal Government, during the celebration of Democracy Day, raised an alarm over the outbreak of the deadly anthrax disease.
According to him, a public health advisory, jointly signed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the NCDC, warned that Nigeria was at high risk of importing the deadly anthrax disease from Ghana, where it was confirmed in both humans and animals.
He mentioned a report by Citi Newsroom, which indicated that as of June, 30 animals had died, three human deaths had been recorded, and 13 cases had tested positive for anthrax disease in Ghana.
“Cognizant of the fact that though anthrax is primarily a disease of animals, non-vaccinated animals with anthrax can easily transmit it to humans through the inhalation of anthrax spores or consumption of contaminated/infected animal products such as hides and skin, meat, or milk,” he said.
He expressed concern that although Nigeria had yet to record any suspected or confirmed cases, the outbreak in Ghana posed a significant public health risk to Nigeria due to the highly transmissible nature of the disease.
He further expressed concern over Nigeria’s low level of preparedness and awareness, as many Nigerians were ignorant of the outbreak of anthrax disease, how it is transmitted, and the risks it poses.
He also mentioned that the Federal Government had not announced any nationwide livestock vaccination exercise against anthrax disease as a means to prevent it from infiltrating the country.
In its resolutions, the Senate urged the Federal Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism to initiate intensive awareness campaigns to educate Nigerians about the outbreak of anthrax disease, its symptoms for early detection, and prevention guidelines.
It also mandated its Committee on Legislative Compliance to ensure that the concerned agencies comply with its resolutions.