The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has enforced a ban on importing live animals and meat to the Maldives from Tamil Nadu in India following an anthrax outbreak, local media reports.
A statement from the HPA read that two towns in Tamil Nadu had reported an outbreak of anthrax, and as a precautionary measure the agency had banned live animal and meal imports from any state within Tamil Nadu.
The HPA has urged against using live animals and meat produced after December 31, 2012 imported from India.
“Normally anthrax affects animals such as goats and cows. However, humans can get the disease from animals. Humans contract the disease by coming in contact with infected animals, airborne germs and consuming meat of infected animals,” the HPA stated.
Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, according to the agency.
Orf virus found in Thilafushi goat
Prior to being abolished, the Centre for Community Health and Disease Control (CCHDC) reported that a goat in Thilafushi had tested positive for the Orf virus earlier this month.
Despite the Ministry of Agriculture earlier stating that Orf is a dangerous virus, as reported by local media, the CCHDC said it does not pose a great risk to humans.
Epidemiologist at CCHDC Dr Aishath Aruna said that a human can only contract the virus by coming into direct contact with an infected goat, Sun Online reported.
“Humans can contract the disease from goats, by coming into direct contact with an infected goat. It’s not a dangerous disease. Only people who tend and rear goats are at risk,” Aruna was quoted as saying by local media.
In regard to goats being reared in Thilafushi – otherwise known as “garbage island” – Dr Aruna told Sun Online that eating the meat from these goats could pose a risk to humans.
The Thilafushi Corporation said the island is used for industrial purposes, and that people who rear goats in the island do so without obtaining the necessary permits.
The CDHDC was abolished by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik earlier this month. The President’s Office confirmed that functions and responsibilities of the CCHDC were to be transferred to the HPA.
The CCHDC had been working to identify diseases prevalent in the Maldives, and to prevent disease and increase health awareness.