The Veterinary Service Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has submitted a report on the reported anthrax cases in the Upper East Region: Below is an extract of the report.
Since the confirmation of the cases of anthrax in some parts of the Upper East Region by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, a lot has been done to control and contain the spread of the disease to other parts of the region and subsequently to the rest of the country.
Sample analysis at the laboratory of the Veterinary Service Directorate confirming the anthrax cases led to a directive by the Sector Minister, Dr Bryan Acheampong, to restrict the movement of animals within, into and out of the Binduri District, which first recorded the cases.
The directive further advised the public to, observe vigilance, purchase meat from only certified abattoirs and promptly report animal deaths to the nearest veterinary unit or health facility in the affected area.
There was also a mass vaccination exercise of animals in the affected areas and also, a ban on the consumption of meat from dead animals in the affected areas, while the public was advised to contact the nearest veterinary services directorate for professional guidance and advice in all suspected cases on the matter.
Policy on anthrax
• In times of outbreak, ring vaccinations (8km) must be conducted.
• Treatment of in-contacts with penicillin and other appropriate broad-spectrum antibiotics.
• Burning carcass and/ or burying 6ft with line. (burying must be complete)
• Disposal of spore-vaccine bottles through burning or burying
• Annual vaccinations within endemic areas.
• Exporters require veterinary certification for hides, skins and hairs (from ruminants, equines and pigs)
• Control of importation.
Effective disease surveillance is essential for prevention and control programmes of anthrax.
The Veterinary Services in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service and the Environmental Health Department of the Local Government Service is working to ensure the rapid control of the disease.
The disease surveillance is currently intensified in the region by these health institutions (VSD,
GHS & Environmental) to ensure the early detection, diagnoses and effective control of the
disease in order to avert further deaths and economic losses.
Public health implication
Anthrax is primarily an occupational hazard for handlers of processed hides, goat hair, bone products, wool and infected wildlife.
In humans, anthrax manifests itself in three distinct patterns (cutaneous, gastrointestinal and inhalation).
The most common is a skin infection, where people become infected when handling animals or animal products that contain spores.
To avert this public health challenge, there is the need for a resilient animal health system.
The veterinary services conducts disease surveillance (active & passive) throughout the country.
This activity is meant to early detect diseases before they spread, cost lives and become difficult to control.
Effective disease surveillance can improve disease outbreak detection in emergency settings, while routine vaccination of cattle in such endemic areas are necessary.
The carcasses of infected animals should either be burnt at the site of death or deeply
buried, while scorching with a down directed flame or disinfection of death sites is mandatory.