WINDHOEK – The agriculture and health ministries are cautioning all farmers and the general public on the suspected outbreak of anthrax in livestock and humans in Otjitanga village in Epupa constituency in the Kunene region and among hippos at Lake Liambezi in Zambezi region.
Executive Director in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Percy Misika in a press release stated the detection of anthrax in livestock was observed last month, adding that out of the 1 760 animal population, 68 small stock (sheep and goats) have died in Kunene region.
“In the Zambezi region, the deaths of the hippos at Lake Liambezi were detected on August 29, 2019, and 39 of them out of a population of 110 hippos died,” stated Misika, adding that no suspected case of anthrax was reported in livestock living near the lake.
As far as human safety and well-being is concerned the health and social services executive director, Ben Nangombe, said this month that the Opuwo district in Kunene region reported 104 suspected cases of human anthrax in Otjitanga village in Epupa constituency after the community ate or came in close contact or consumed suspected anthrax-infected carcasses of goats and cattle.
“So far, three people have been admitted but no deaths were reported,” said Nangombe.
Signs and symptoms of anthrax in animals include general weakness, difficulty in breathing, abortion, bloating and rapid decomposing of bodies, among others, while in human beings it incorporates nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fever, swollen neck and severe bloody diarrhoea in the later stages of the disease.
Nangombe said that in the Katima Mulilo district, suspected anthrax cases of about 11 people, who consumed the meat of dead hippos that died of unknown causes, developed lesions or cuts on different parts of their bodies. “Only one person was admitted for treatment and has been discharged. No deaths have been reported,” said Nangombe.
“From now on and as usual, any person who has been exposed to anthrax (consumed the meat or come in contact with sick animals or carcasses) must report to the nearest health facility for evaluation and treatment,” cautioned Nangombe.
A practical warning and preventative measure is to never touch a dead animal without protective clothing. Farmers are further advised to ensure their livestock are vaccinated annually against anthrax.
Both ministries are appealing to the general public and all farmers to cooperate during these outbreaks.