The National Park Service has raised concern about the potential of facing an outbreak of another zoonotic disease—after coronavirus—in the wake of reports of dead fishes washed ashore by waves in Rivers and Bayelsa.
The concern comes amidst the ongoing pandemic of coronavirus, which has infected millions and killed tens of thousands around the world since it emerged.
Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transmitted from humans to animals or animals to humans.
Coronaviruses have been in animals for a long time, but a new strain that emerged this year and infected humans for the first time has been found responsible for the ongoing pandemic of Covid-19.
The pandemic has been linked to a wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where it first emerged.
The Service said Nigeria could afford another zoonotic disease while still battling with the scourge of Covid-19.
The areas reported to have been most affected are communities in Bonny and Andoni in Rivers state and in Foropa and Sangana in Bayelsa state.
“Animals can sometimes appear healthy even when they are carrying germs that can make people sick, depending on the zoonotic disease,” said Ibrahim Goni, conservator-general of the National Park Service.
“Zoonotic diseases range from minor short-term illness to a major life-changing illness that can even cause death,” he said in a statement.
Residents and others in Bonny in preliminary investigations have determined the species of dead fish being washed ashore as croaker.
According to the reports, the fishes appeared to be contaminated by some unidentified chemical.
Some were swollen, excreting pus from their dead bodies, turned green and had a pungent odour that could be smelt from a distance.
The Service has warned such fish should not be allowed to enter the markets around the community to prevent serious health dangers.
“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,” said Goni.