Sierra Leone has reported an outbreak of the deadly anthrax disease for the first time in nearly 30 years.
According to authorities, cases have been identified in animals in the north-western region of the country, where more than 200 animals are kept The death was confirmed.
The country’s Agriculture Minister, Abu Bakarr Karim, made the announcement at a press conference on Monday.
Officials said there were reports of animal deaths in the district Port Loko followed where samples were taken and tested and the result came back positive for anthrax.
Anthrax is described as a serious infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Bacillus anthracis. It occurs naturally in the soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals. Humans can also contract anthrax if they come into contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products. But the disease is treatable.
Officials told journalists that no human case had been recorded in the outbreak in Sierra Leone and they said they were considering measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
Minister Karim said 223 farm animals (91 cattle, 53 goats, 79 sheep) were reported dead in the affected area.
“The government is considering its options, restrictions on production, processing and marketing importing livestock and livestock products, mainly cattle, sheep and goats,” he said in a joint statement from the Departments of Agriculture and Health.
The public have been urged to report any cases of sick animals in their community and refrain from self-treatment without consulting experts.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, anthrax falls into the category of re-emerging zoonotic diseases in Sierra Leone, wobe i the last outbreak in the country was reported in 1994 – 28 years ago.
Anthrax exists in th The form of spores that experts say can survive in soil for decades until released by the right host, usually Animals that either ingest them while grazing or inhale them through infested dust can become infected.
Ruminants infected by anthrax are often found dead with no signs of disease.
Humans are infected by the Eating meat from infected animals or handling products from infected animals. They can also get it by breathing airborne anthrax spores.
“To combat this disease, one of the best options is to vaccinate animals,” Minister Karim said.
The minister said all cattle ranches and sheep and goat farms in the affected areas have been ordered to implement quarantine restrictions until the outbreak is under control.
Other measures include increased surveillance and treatment of anthrax cases in both Humans as well as animals Active social mobilization and community awareness raising for anthrax prevention and control, added Mr. Karim.
The movement of farm animals and their products from the affected areas is also prohibited.