Experts Warn Consuming Animal Blood Risks Anthrax Outbreak1

Experts Warn: Consuming Animal Blood Risks Anthrax Outbreak

Food and animal experts have raised concerns that consuming animal blood, particularly from diseased animals, could potentially lead to an outbreak of anthrax and other zoonotic diseases. This warning follows the confirmation of an anthrax outbreak in a mixed livestock farm in Niger State by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in July 2023.

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Anthrax, a zoonotic disease caused by bacteria, affects humans and animals and can be transmitted by consuming raw or undercooked meat and other animal products. The World Health Organisation defines zoonosis as an infectious disease transmitted from animals to humans, with over 200 types identified.

Feedipedia, an animal feed resources information system, notes that blood collected during livestock slaughter is often dried using various methods and consumed in several Nigerian tribes as a meat source. While animal blood is a good source of protein and iron, its consumption raises health concerns regarding the spread of diseases from animals to humans.

Prof Olugbenga Ogunmoyela, President of the Consumer Advocacy for Food Safety and Nutrition Initiative, emphasized the risks associated with consuming animal blood, including exposure to blood-borne illnesses. He pointed out that blood safety as food depends on several factors, including how the animal is reared, how the blood is collected and processed, and how it reaches consumers. He advised that proper cooking could reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses but cautioned against consuming raw blood.

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Muhammad-Bashir Bolajoko, Assistant Director and Veterinary Preventive Medicine Consultant at the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Plateau State, highlighted the risks. He stated that while the consumption of animal blood is typical in some cultures, it is taboo in others. He warned that consuming blood meals, mainly from sick animals, could lead to zoonotic disease outbreaks like anthrax.

Editorial

The recent warnings from food and animal experts about the risks associated with consuming animal blood, particularly in the context of the anthrax outbreak in Niger State, highlight a critical public health issue. The potential for zoonotic diseases to spread from animals to humans through such practices underscores the need for increased awareness and education on food safety and hygiene.

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While culturally significant in some communities, animal blood consumption poses significant health risks if not handled and processed correctly. This situation calls for a collaborative effort between health authorities, food safety experts, and community leaders to educate the public about the dangers of consuming improperly processed animal products.

The anthrax outbreak in a livestock farm serves as a reminder of the importance of monitoring and regulating animal health and food processing practices. Strengthening veterinary services, implementing strict slaughterhouse hygiene standards, and ensuring thorough inspection of animal products are essential steps to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases.

As Nigeria continues to address various public health challenges, it is crucial to balance cultural practices with the need to safeguard the population’s health. Promoting safe food practices, enhancing surveillance of animal diseases, and fostering a culture of food safety is vital for preventing future outbreaks and protecting public health.

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Did You Know?

  1. Bacillus anthracis causes anthrax and can affect humans and animals, particularly cattle, sheep, and goats.
  2. Zoonotic diseases are infections that can be transmitted from animals to humans, with some being able to transfer from human to human.
  3. Blood meals from animals are used in various cultures worldwide, not just for consumption but also in medical and religious practices.
  4. Proper handling and cooking of animal products are crucial in preventing the transmission of zoonotic diseases.
  5. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention is crucial in monitoring and responding to outbreaks, including zoonotic diseases like anthrax.

Author

  • Nissi Nwaozuzu

    Nissi Nwaozuzu is a woman with many talents. She loves writing, reading, knitting, sewing, and drawing. She also plays the guitar and sings beautifully. Mixed martial arts are one of her passions as well! Email: nissi.nwaozuzu@yohaig.ng

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