By Okeoghene Akubuike
The Conservator- General, National Park Service, Dr Ibrahim Goni, has warned that the world could not afford another zoonotic disease while still battling with the scourge of Covid-19.
A statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja quotes Goni as giving the warning in a reaction to the recent reports of dead fishes being washed ashore by waves in Rivers and Bayelsa States.
The statement by Mr Yakubu Zull, the Media Assistant to the Conservator General, said the areas reported to have been most affected were communities in Bonny and Andoni in Rivers and Foropa and Sangana in Bayelsa .
According to Goni, Zoonotic diseases are naturally transmitted from vertebrate animals to humans and vice-versa just like Covid-19 virus.
“Some do not make the animals sick but will make humans sick. Animals can sometimes appear healthy even when they are carrying germs that can make people sick, depending on the zoonotic disease.
“Zoonotic diseases range from minor short-term illness to a major life-changing illness that can even cause death,” he said.
The C-G described the incident as an imminent health danger not only to the lives of other important aquatics in the coastlines, but also to the residents of the areas affected.
He commended the residents and some patriotic Bonny men who carried out preliminary investigations into the incident that revealed the species of the affected fish as Croaker.
Goni said that the reports indicated that the fishes appeared to be contaminated by some sort of chemical, were swollen, had excreted pus on their dead bodies, greenish in colour and had a pungent odour even from a distance.
He warned that such fish should not be allowed to enter the markets of the affected communities as that could pose danger to human health.
“With a massive and rising death toll and crumbling economic and education systems, the world has already taken serious hits from Covid-19.
“Any possible further incident must be quickly brought under control so as to nip in the bud another zoonotic disease – this time originating from Nigeria,” Goni said.
He called for a more comprehensive investigation into the incident by all relevant stakeholders to forestall the surge of yet another zoonotic disease in the country.
“There should also be an immediate plan by experts to mop up the fishes that were reported to have entered some markets in Port Harcourt city.
“The affected shores should be cleared before the bodies of the fishes become an environmental disaster’’.
Goni said that the management of animals need an integrated approach and application of veterinary science.
“Animals should be handled by experts and more importantly requires collaborative, cross-sectoral efforts of human and animal health systems.
“This multidisciplinary approach includes considering the complexities of the ecosystems where humans and animals coexist,” the C-G said.(NAN)