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Published On: Fri, Jan 4th, 2013

Zimbabwe: More than 20 villagers hospitalized with anthrax after eating contaminated meat in Makoni District

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Image/Agricultural Research Service/USDA

More than 20 villagers from the northeastern Zimbabwe village of Masvosva, Makoni District have contracted the bacterial disease, anthrax, after butchering and eating infected livestock, according to a Manica Post report Thursday.

According to the report, sources at Rusape District Hospital confirmed more than 20 hospitalised cases of anthrax. Fortunately, there were no fatalities.

District Medical Officer Dr Mohammed Khaled has advised the public to abstain from eating  meat from animals whose causes of deaths are unknown.

The outbreak was discovered by veterinary authorities after villagers sought medical care for their infections. The Makoni district veterinary officer Dr Kupa Hwana said because farmers did not report the death of cattle, it became too late for vaccine intervention.

Dr Hwana dissuaded farmers from slaughtering sick animals, adding that dead ones must be properly buried to avoid the spread of the disease.

Anthrax is a pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Some of the more common herbivores are cattle, sheep, goats, horses, camels and deers.

It infects humans primarily through occupational or incidental exposure with infected animals of their skins.

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

When conditions become favorable, 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.

The bacteria will form spores in the carcass and then return to the soil to infect other animals. The vegetative form is rarely implicated in transmission.

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.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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