TACKLING BOVIN TB IN NIGERIA
By Samuel Oyejola and Zarah Yusuf
a long time is a public health challenge in Nigeria. It is one communicable
disease that has claimed lives and has continued to claim lives among humans.
However for animals, there are revelations that bovine TB, a form of
Tuberculosis found in cattle is becoming epidemic in the country among humans.
This challenge pose not a little set back to the combined effort of the
government and development partners to eradicate the disease in the country by
tuberculosis (bTB) is a chronic infectious and contagious zoonotic disease of
domestic animals, wild animals and humans. It is characterized by the formation
of granulomas in tissues, especially in the lungs, lymph nodes, liver,
intestine and kidney.
According to a research
carried out in Gombe state, North-West Nigeria, between 2008 and 2015, out of
154,562 slaughtered heads of cattle examined at postmortem, 1,202 had typical
tuberculous lesions and overall total prevalence rate of 0.78%. The annual
prevalence was significantly higher in 2015 (1.04%) with the lowest records in
observation at major abattoirs in the Federal Capital Territory revealed that
in spite the prevalence of the disease among cattle in the country, the needful
can be done to prevent human infection.
At the Deidei abattoir,
one of the major abattoir in the capital city, health officials ensure that
cattle and other domestic animals lined out for slaughter are inspected and
assured to be physically fit for human consumption before they are matched to
the slaughter slabs.
are inspected and ensure that any that present any form of TB symptoms are closely
monitored, the cattle are slaughtered and postmortem tests are carried out to
confirm the rate of infection. Infected cattle would have lesions in the lungs
and any other parts of the intestine. Where this infection is noticed, the
infected part of the slaughtered cattle are removed, confiscated and properly
“If one of the animals
has bovine TB, it will present persistent cough. If it also tally with the
climatic season when it is most prevalence then by the time the animal is taken
in for slaughter, you now do what is called post mortem check,” said Dr. Uche
Anazodo, one of the health officials tasked with inspection of cattle meant for
slaughter and consumption at the Deidei Slaughter House in Bwari Area Council
of the Federal Capital Territory.
This process is
part of the standard to ensure that beef sold for consumption in the country
are safe for ingestion and portends no danger to consumers’ health. The reality
however is that while the cattle slaughtered in public and private slaughter
houses are inspected and certified for human consumption, cattle slaughtered at
private home and outside the slaughter houses usually evade due process.
In Nigeria, over
400,000 new cases of TB are recorded annually, making Nigeria one of the
countries with high record of the disease globally.
to combat the spread of this zoonotic disease resulted in the launch of a
multidisciplinary Roadmap for zoonotic tuberculosis in 2017 with the World
Health Organization joining forces with other international agencies like the
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Union Against
Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.
global TB pandemic by 2030 has a direct factor with the increasing spread of
bTB. These organizations agreed that by 2020, improvement in capacity of
national health-care and laboratory services for diagnosing and treating
zoonotic tuberculosis; scaled-up efforts to improve national food safety
standards; and for zoonotic and bovine tuberculosis are targets that are
expected to be properly addressed by government authorities.
For Dr. Anazodo,
preventing human contact of bTB can simply be prevented if beef are well cooked
prior to human consumption. “It is a zoonotic disease. If infected beef is not
cooked properly, it can infect human. Normally you do not just come around
cattle… if the meat is cooked properly it may not infect human. Human can only
get infected from animals through consumption,” he explained.
WHO and other international interested bodies in the eradication of bTB and Tb
envisioned that by 2025, rapid diagnostic tools should be available for
diagnosing zoonotic TB and rolled-out to high risk groups, while appropriate
drug regimens defined for effective treatment of zoonotic TB and Anti-TB
vaccine are available for people and rolled-out.
More also new diagnostic
assays should be provided by the government for livestock; effective bovine TB vaccines
available for livestock and rolled-out in endemic settings; multi-species
transmission pathways and sources of infection better characterized and used to
inform the design of appropriate interventions; and mainstreaming of One Health
approaches into efforts to improve human and animal health at global, national
and community levels.
In Nigeria, the
2020 targets may be far from being met with government attention focused on
other diseases that are not zoonotic. However with sincere commitment both the
2020 and 2025 targets can be achieved in collaboration with both local and
international development partners
400,000 new cases of TB in Nigeria, it is important that bTB be factored into
the eradication of TB policy of the government.
This article is
sponsored and supported by African Science and Literacy Network (ASLN)