Sierra Leone bans meat imports from Liberia over anthrax spread

Sierra Leone has banned the movement of livestock and meat imports from neighbouring Liberia after 36 cows died near the border, the government said, adding that it was stepping up surveillance for possible anthrax.

Liberian authorities said the cattle deaths began in July near the town of Kelima Bendu in Lofa County, about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the Sierra Leonean border and 15 kilometres from the border with Guinea. Tests are being carried out to find the cause.

In a statement received Tuesday by AFP, the Sierra Leonean government said that the movement of all cattle, goats and sheep had been banned along the border, and livestock markets had been temporarily closed in bordering areas.

It did not give details about the suspected animal deaths in Liberia, but said that in the Sierra Leonean districts of Kailahun, Kenema and Pujehun, surveillance measures had been stepped up at slaughterhouses “for sick animals and humans with signs and symptoms of anthrax.”

In May 2022, an anthrax outbreak in Sierra Leone killed more than 200 animals.

Anthrax is transmitted by spores that can remain inactive for decades in the soil. It is transmissible to humans and sometimes fatal.

“Thus far, there has been no report of dead cattle being discovered in other parts of Lofa or other counties”, the Liberian agriculture ministry said on July 7.


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