Anthrax: FCT lists one million cattle for vaccination

The Agricultural and Rural Development Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, on Monday, began a four-week mass vaccination of cattle in the FCT to curb the spread of anthrax.

The acting Secretary, FCTA, Alhaji Ishaq Sadeeq, inaugurated the exercise in Paikon Kore Grazing Reserve, Gwagwalada Area Council, Abuja.

According to him, the mass vaccination exercise targets at least one million cattle across the six area councils of the FCT.

Sadeeq explained that the move became necessary following the confirmation of the disease in Suleja, Niger, one of the neighbouring states of the FCT.

He thanked the Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Mr Olusade Adesola, for approving the purchase of one million doses of the vaccine, which scientists had identified as the most effective way of preventing the disease.

He explained that the exercise was part of the FCT Administration’s proactiveness and readiness to combat the disease.

“The FCT Administration had since the announcement of the outbreak in Ghana earlier this year, carried out a series of outreach campaigns to sensitise residents, particularly livestock owners and butchers, to anthrax disease.

“The sensitisation was to avail them the knowledge of signs and symptoms, as well as effective measures they can adopt to protect themselves and their animals from contracting and spreading the disease,” he said.

He appealed for the co-operation of livestock owners with the veterinary health workers, to ensure the success of the exercise.

He equally advised livestock owners against selling or slaughtering any animal with visible symptoms of the disease but rather report suspected cases to any of the FCT Veterinary Clinics.

The Director of Veterinary Services, FCT, Dr Regina Adulugba, described anthrax as a “fatal disease” to both animals and humans, which can be contracted through open wounds and from consuming infected animals.

Adulugba said, “The best protection against the disease is vaccinating the animals and that is what we are here to do.

“It is deadly because it is zoonotic. Zoonotic means it can affect humans and it can affect animals. So, it is dangerous, and it spreads by too many means.”

On his part, the Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, FCT chapter, Mallam Yahaya Isa, commended the FCTA for being the first to take the proactive step.

“The entire Fulani herders’ community is happy and is fully prepared to comply with the arrangement.

“Our people are ready to cooperate with the officials everywhere. We have even mobilised in each area council, some group of youths to back them up wherever they are going,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, on Monday,  urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the animal health sector to nip anthrax and other zoonotic diseases in the bud.

The National President of the association, Dr Olutoyin Adetuberu, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.

Adetuberu specifically tasked the government with the vaccination of animals in the 17 border states of the anthrax outbreak.

She listed some of the border states as, Adamawa, Borno, Taraba, Niger, Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Ebonyi and Cross River,  bordering Cameroon.

She said the adjoining states bordering Niger Republic where vaccination should be carried out are Plateau, Gombe, Bauch and Sokoto.

Adetuberu called for massive employment of veterinary doctors across the country to ensure effective vaccination of animals and disease detection, prevention and control.

“If you want to protect lives and property, which is the primary responsibility of government, you must employ veterinary doctors for disease detection, prevention and control,’’ she said.

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