Tanzania Curbs Latest Outbreak of Anthrax

Mark Babatunde November 22, 2016
Tanzania health officials say they have successfully contained one of the country's most extensive anthrax outbreaks in recent times. Photo Credit: Emaze

Tanzanian health authorities have successfully contained a recent outbreak of anthrax in the country’s northern region. The BBC reports that the Tanzanian government contained the serious outbreak in an area that includes the Ngorongoro Crater, a world-famous wildlife reserve. Anthrax is a highly infectious disease caused by the bacterium, Bacillus Anthracis. It is a zoonotic disease meaning it is transmissible between humans to animals and vice-versa.

It is spread by spread by dust, carrion-eating birds, and grazing animals. Humans are normally infected only by handling the carcass, skin, or wool of infected animals. Symptoms include ulcers, vomiting, and fevers which typically begin one day to two months after contracting the disease.

Earlier this month, at the height of the disease’s outbreak, officials say about 100 wildebeest and 15 gazelles were killed in the Selela Wildlife Corridor. A few domestic animals also died during the course of the outbreak.

Tanzania Curbs Outbreak of Anthrax

A cow infected with anthrax bleeds from the nose. Photo Credit: The Chronicle

Experts say the infected livestock belonging to the communities who live nearby are putting the wild animals at risk.

Dr. Jorum Mgwira, an assistant director at the Tanzanian ministry of agriculture, noted that it is important to burn or bury infected carcasses as the only way to contain the outbreak.

With the help of villagers, a team of more than 30 wildlife and health experts have been moving around the dry open space among scattered thorny trees, collecting the decomposing carcasses of animals infected with anthrax.

Although anthrax bacterium is endemic to Tanzania and outbreaks are not altogether unusual, authorities say this is the first time they have had to deal with an outbreak of this magnitude.

In April, an outbreak of anthrax in the northern region of Kilimanjaro killed one person, with four others being hospitalized. Regional authorities responded by embarking on a massive vaccination program, that targeted hundreds of thousands of animals including cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs.

Last Edited by:Charles Gichane Updated: June 19, 2018


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