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Gov’t caution over eating of Ponmo, Bushmeat

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By Usman Oladimeji

Health professionals concluded ponmo has no nutritional value.

Due to the recent Anthrax outbreak in various West African countries, the Nigerian government has cautioned its citizens to refrain from eating hides (ponmo), smoked meat, and bush meat. Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, issued the warning in a statement released on Monday. He stressed the importance of warning Nigerians about the disease outbreak in Northern Ghana, which is close to the borders of Burkina Faso and Togo.

Many Nigerians consider ponmo (cowskin) to be a healthful meat alternative. Ponmo is consumed by people of all socioeconomic backgrounds due to its widespread appeal and because it is seen as a cheap substitute for meat. Despite the fact that it is widely regarded as palatable, health professionals have concluded that it has no nutritional value to human health. In fact, you should not eat ponmo in the sense that some of the animal skin used for this food source may have skin diseases such as this Anthrax.

Spores that can cause anthrax are ubiquitous in soil.

Dr. Umakhihe further, saying that Anthrax spores are present in the soil and regularly infect both domestic and wild animals, and that the disease is spread to humans through contact with infected animals. He explained that exposure to or consumption of infected animals or contaminated animal products can result in human infection with Anthrax spores and other diseases. The symptoms indicated in the statement are similar to the flu, including a cough, fever, and muscular pains, but they can progress to pneumonia, serious lung issues, difficulty breathing, shock, and even death if not treated promptly.

According to him, the dreadful disease is a zoonotic bacterial disease that has taken the lives of many individuals. Spores that can cause anthrax are ubiquitous in soil and frequently infect both domestic and wild animals. Although it is possible to contract anthrax spores by direct contact with diseased animals or contaminated animal products, the disease cannot be spread through close contact with an affected person. Nevertheless, a combination of antibiotics and supportive care is effective in treating this bacterial infection.

FG has revived a Standing Committee on the Control of Anthrax.

Typically, Anthrax is an animal disease; yet, due to man’s frequent proximity to animals, the disease can readily be spread from infected non-vaccinated animals to humans through the inhalation of Anthrax spores or the eating of infected animal products like ponmo, meat, or milk. Meanwhile, the Federal Government has revived a Standing Committee on the Control of Anthrax through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the public is urged to remain calm and watchful. In addition to raising awareness among state-level veterinary service directors, efforts have been made to reach out to key institutions and partners to help contain the outbreak.

He added that states bordering Burkina Faso, Togo, and Ghana—including Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos—have been urged to step up efforts to vaccinate livestock. Taking a deep look, some of the animal skins are pre-treated with industrial chemicals that are not fit for human consumption and can be harmful to human health. There are numerous health risks associated with consuming animal hides, including but not limited to liver and kidney damage, heart disease, aplastic anaemia, central nervous system toxicity, cancer, and more.

Concerns over Ponmo consumption could lead to a ban.

More so, some dealers soak it in Formalin in order to increase ponmo size and thickness for greater profit. The excessive accumulation of this substance is extremely harmful because it can cause severe damage to the kidneys and the liver. Government concerns over Ponmo and other Bushmeat consumption could eventually lead to a ban in an effort to curb the outbreak of the disease, as previously witnessed last year, which could stir up the millions of Nigerians who find consolation and joy in eating ponmo.

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