Agriculture

Anthrax outbreak hits Bikita

People get anthrax by handling contaminated animal or animal products, consuming undercooked meat of infected animals and more recently, intentional release of spores.

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  • There are three types of human anthrax with differing degrees of seriousness: cutaneous, gastrointestinal and inhalation.

AN outbreak of anthrax has hit Bikita District in Masvingo with 27 people reportedly diagnosed with the disease at different clinics so far.

Masvingo Department of Veterinary Services Provincial officer Dr Ernest Dzimwasha confirmed the outbreak.

“I can confirm that there is an outbreak of anthrax in Bikita and a number of people have been affected. We also have reports of cattle dying,  but I am not in the office to give exact details,” said Dr Dzimwasha.

The latest incident comes as three people are in serious condition after eating meat from animals that died of anthrax in Mahusekwa, Marondera District.

Marondera district’s veterinary officer, Dr Kramer Manyetu, said that upon investigation, it was established that the affected trio consumed meat from two cattle that died on December 30.

Anthrax vaccination of animals commenced in the area Friday.

Anthrax is a bacterial pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Ruminants such as bison, cattle, sheep and goats are highly susceptible, and horses can also be infected.

Anthrax is a very serious disease of livestock because it can potentially cause the rapid loss of a large number of animals in a very short time. Affected animals are often found dead with no illness detected.

When conditions become favourable, the spores germinate into colonies of bacteria. An example would be a grazing cow ingests spores that in the cow, germinate, grow spread and eventually kill the animal.

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Anthrax is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. This spore-forming bacteria can survive in the environment for decades because of its ability to resist heat, cold, drying, etc. This is usually the infectious stage of anthrax.

There are no reports of person-to-person transmission of anthrax.

People get anthrax by handling contaminated animal or animal products, consuming undercooked meat of infected animals and more recently, intentional release of spores.

There are three types of human anthrax with differing degrees of seriousness: cutaneous, gastrointestinal and inhalation.

Anthrax can be prevented by vaccination.

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