Sierra Leone Records First Anthrax Outbreak in 28 Years

Sierra Leone Records First Anthrax Outbreak in 28 Years (News Central TV)

For the first time in over 30 years, Sierra Leone has reported an outbreak of the deadly anthrax disease.

Authorities say cases have been found in animals in the country’s northeastern area, where more than 200 livestock have died.

The statement was made at a press conference on Monday by the country’s Agriculture Minister, Abu Bakarr Karim.

Sierra Leone’s Agriculture Minister Abu Bakarr Karim.

Officials said it was in response to complaints of animals dying in the Port Loko District, where samples were collected and examined, with the outcome showing anthrax.

Officials informed journalists that no human cases had been reported in the Sierra Leonean epidemic so far, and that they were considering putting in place precautions to stop the disease from spreading.

Minister Karim said that 223 livestock (91 cattle, 53 goats, 79 sheep) were reported dead in the affected area.

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“Government is evaluating its options to institute restrictions on the production, processing and marketing of livestock and livestock products, mainly cattle, sheep and goat,” he said in a joint statement from the Ministries of Agriculture and Health.

The public has been advised to report any incidents of sick animals in their neighborhood and to avoid from treating them without consulting experts.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, anthrax is a re-emerging zoonotic disease in Sierra Leone, with the most recent outbreak occurring in 1994, which was 28 years ago.

Anthrax is spread via spores, which can persist in the soil for decades until they are picked up by the correct host, mainly animals who eat them while grazing or inhale them through infected dust.

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Anthrax-infected ruminant animals are frequently discovered dead with no signs of illness.

Humans become infected through eating meat of infected animals or handling of products of infected animals. They can also get it by inhaling airborne anthrax spores.

“To fight this disease, one of the best options is animal vaccination,” Minister Karim said.

The minister said all cattle ranches and sheep and goat farms in the affected areas have been ordered to institute quarantine restrictions until the outbreak is under control.

Other measures include intensified surveillance and management of anthrax cases both in humans and animals, as well as active social mobilisation and sensitisation of communities on anthrax prevention and control, Mr Karim added.

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Anthrax is a deadly infectious disease caused by a bacteria called Bacillus anthracis. It is found in soil naturally and affects both domestic and wild animals. If humans come into contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products, they can become infected with anthrax. However, the illness is curable.

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