This Day (Lagos)

4 September 2014

Nigeria: Vet Doctors Urged to Curtail Spread of Ebola From Animals to Man

As the nation battles with the containment of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), veterinary doctors have been challenged to find a way to permanently keep the virus out of man and even render it impotent in animals.

The challenge was thrown yesterday at the first oath taking ceremony of veterinary graduates of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Umuiahia in Abia State.

Speakers noted that since animals are the primary host of the Ebola virus, the professionals who treat animal diseases have a special role to play in containing it.

In urging the veterinarians to launch full scale war on Ebola virus, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Hilary Edeoga, said the animal doctors have the requisite skills and scientific knowledge to help the nation overcome the EVD.

"The principles of the veterinary ethics contained in your oath require you to use your scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society, prevent animal diseases, relieve animal suffering, improve animal production," he said.

Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji, who was represented by the Secretary to Abia State Government (SSG), Professor Mkpa A. Mkpa, also threw the same challenge saying that the veterinary doctors must rise up to the challenge of routing EVD.

Interestingly, the President, Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN), Prof Garba Sharubutu said that the animal doctors had already taken up the task of taking the war to the very source of Ebola virus, noting that with the relationship between animals and vet doctors it was easy to transmit the disease if adequate caution was not taken.

He told journalists after the ceremony that the council had already come up with a strategy to find a lasting solution to the Ebola menace, adding that the position paper had been transmitted to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, for action.

Sharubutu further disclosed that a research team has been raised at the National Veterinary Research Institute Vom with a specific mandate to tackle the virus and possibly break its transmission fro m animal to man.

He said that the research team would conduct their studies on the animals that host the Ebola virus, including bats and monkeys with a view to checkmating the virus at its natural abode.

The VCN president further said that the Council was determined to ensure that veterinary doctors adhere strictly to their professional ethics because "if you're not practicing ethically you're likely to transmit the disease to others."

To this end, he said veterinarians were required to report on weekly basis all cases they handle, including animal diseases treated and type of animal.

"We have the capacity to discipline any veterinary doctor (who failed foul of the ethical guidelines," he said.

Earlier in his address, the Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine, MOUAU, Prof A.U Kalu, reminded the newly-inducted vet doctors that they have found themselves in a noble profession as animal doctors are "the best doctors in the world" because of the peculiar nature of their patients.

He said in view of the livestock population in Nigeria and the number of registered veterinarians, put at about 10,000 the new veterinarians would have a busy but fulfilling lives ahead of them.

"There is glory enough to share in the Nigerian field provided you work hard and in line with the professional raining and ethics you have been taught," he said.

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