By Amaechi Okonkwo, Port Harcourt
The Rivers State government has advised consumers of beef not to panic over the report that some dead cattle were smuggled into the state from the northern part of the country and sold in an abattoir in the state.
The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, who confirmed that 14 lifeless cattle out of 36 made their way to an abattoir in Rivers State assured that necessary checks were being done.
He stated that the cattle died out of exhaustion and not as a result of infection or any animal disease.
The social media over the weekend was awash with the report that 27 dead cattle were smuggled from Adamawa State to somewhere in Igwuruta, Ikwerre local government area of Rivers State, warning people to be wary of consuming beef.
“Our rapid response team for emergencies and epidemics are already on ground to do their job and they reported back to me. The public health department and every arm of the ministry are supposed to have a protocol for this type of situation in case of epidemics for proper burial including human burials. In case of Ebola and Lassa feve,r a protocol, the normal protocols we have were put in place and that is exactly what was done,” the commissioner assured.
He explained that samples taken from the herds and people working at the abattoir confirmed that the cattle may not necessarily have died of any animal disease.
He said: “The cows were bought in Mubi, some were to be deposited in Abia and some in Rivers State and we also discovered that the vehicle conveying these animals had problems on the road and was being repaired. In the course of the repairs, these animals were not given food or water, exhaustion now set in. Some of the animals actually died, samples were collected by the ministry of health, there was no evidence of infection or whatever. The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and relevant authorities at local government were now involved and supervised the proper burial of these animals; 14 in number”.
In its reaction, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Rivers State said the incident was avoidable.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Nathaniel Dakura, called for proper transportation system of cattle across the country.
He said: “We need extension officers on ground, people that will be able to work in collaboration with the road transport union workers to ensure that the vehicles used to transport these animals are in conformity with what is expected. And so government cannot turn their eyes away from this because when animals are stressed or disturbed because of the manner of transportation they are dehydrated and they die. Supposing they were not intercepted because animals that die of dehydration or strangulated affect the quality of the meat”.