Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Three people are battling for their lives after consuming meat from animals that died of anthrax in Mahusekwa, Marondera district.
The three cases were picked at Chimbwanda Clinic last week and were confirmed at Mahusekwa Hospital on Monday.
Marondera District Veterinary Officer, Dr Kramer Manyetu said on investigation, it was established that the affected three people consumed meat from two cattle that died on December 30, 2019.
“No meat was still available when the affected property was visited. The two cattle deaths were reported at Chimbwanda West Diptank which has a census of 800 cattle.
“The combined census for a 10 kilometre radius is 4 500 cattle covering a total of three diptanks namely Chimbwanda West (800), Chimbwanda communal area (22 76) and Nyandoro (1 458),” he said.
Dr Manyetu said they had secured 5 000 doses required to cover the three dip tanks .
“Our staff and the Ministry of Health and Child care are in the area and so far we can confirm that it is only one homestead affected.
“The community has secured poles to build races on three dip tanks and vaccinations will start Friday,” he said.
The Department of Veterinary Services has received 811 000 doses of anthrax vaccine from Botswana’s Vaccine Institute to deal with outbreaks during the rainy season.
Anthrax is a life threatening infectious disease caused by bacteria that normally affects animals, especially ruminants.
The disease affects all warm blooded animals including human beings.
Signs of anthrax include sudden death of livestock, rapid decomposition of the bloated carcasses and tarry blood coming out of all natural openings.
The blood of the carcass is brownish and does not clot.
During the rainy season, the country usually experiences more anthrax outbreaks because of the rains that wash away the top soil and expose spores.
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 thorough contact with the infected animals.
“Opening an anthrax carcass will lead to formation of anthrax spores that are resistant to environmental changes, heat, cold and will contaminate the soil or area for more than 40 years.
“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,” said Dr Manyetu.
“It is also an offence to sell to the public, meat that has not been processed in an abattoir and inspected and certified as unconditionally fit for human consumption.”
Farmers were advised to report all cattle deaths to their nearest veterinary officers.