Govt receives 800 000 anthrax doses An anthrax ridden cow

Elita Chikwati

Senior Agriculture Reporter

Three people have been taken ill in Chikwaka, Mashonaland East, after consuming anthrax-infected meat.

The three were treated at Bosha Clinic.

This comes as the Department of Veterinary Services received 811 000 doses of anthrax vaccine from the Botswana Vaccine Institute to deal with outbreaks during this rainy season.

The mobilised vaccines received last week are enough to cover cattle missed in the first round of vaccination.

Anthrax is a life threatening infectious disease caused by bacteria that normally affects animals, especially ruminants.

During the rainy season, the country usually experiences outbreaks because of the rains that wash away the top soil and expose spores.

DVS chief director, Dr Josphat Nyika, yesterday said the veterinary officers could not find a carcass for sample collection because people had consumed all the meat.

“Suspicion of anthrax was consolidated by human contacts,” said Dr Nyika.

“There were three patients who were diagnosed of anthrax after they had consumed the meat of dead cattle. They were admitted and treated at Bosha Clinic.

“We mobilised vaccines and started vaccinating cattle on December 19. A total of 708 cattle were vaccinated and 597 were missed. On 23 December, 889 cattle were vaccinated, while 1 165 were missed due to vaccine shortage.”

There have been cases of farmers who get infected after eating meat from cattle that would have died of anthrax.

People may also get infected through contact with the infected animals.

Dr Nyika advised the public not to open, let alone eat anthrax carcasses.

“Opening an anthrax carcass will lead to formation of anthrax spores that are resistant to environmental changes, heat or cold and will contaminate the soil or area for more than 40 years,” he said.

“The public should not handle, buy or eat meat that has not been inspected. Anthrax carcasses should never be opened, skinned or eaten. Instead, they should be buried deep into the ground.”

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