Published Date: 2004-10-31 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, human - Namibia (Caprivi)(02)
Archive Number: 20041031.2943
ANTHRAX, HUMAN - NAMIBIA (CAPRIVI) (02)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sun 31 Oct 2004
From: Pablo Nart <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Source: New Era (Windhoek), via allAfrica, 28 Oct 2004 [edited]
Anthrax outbreak, Omaheke under quarantine
The Omaheke Region has been placed under quarantine, following
reports that an unspecified number of cattle were driven across the
border from Botswana into Namibia on Tuesday [26 Oct 2004]. The ban
on the movement of cattle could, however, not be officially confirmed
last night [27 Oct 2004], as most veterinary officers in Omaheke were
out in the field, presumably searching for the animals.
A number of farmers at Tallismanus in the Otjombinde Constituency,
who were contacted for comment, indicated that they had heard about
the ban over the NBC radio service.
Meanwhile, a restriction on the movement of animals was earlier
imposed on the village of Leonardville, situated about 5 to 6 km from
Aminuis, after suspicions of anthrax were reported amongst goats and
sheep at 2 unspecified farming plots. 2 people were also admitted to
the hospital after eating meat infected with anthrax. Their condition
is said to be stable, and they are reported to be responding well to
treatment. Deputy Director of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of
Agriculture, Dr. Cleopas Bamhare, told New Era that "although
preliminary samples were not conclusive, clinical research highly
shows that it is anthrax."
It could, however, not be established whether Leonardville has been
entirely quarantined. Bamhare said this was too strong a term, saying
the area is only under restricted movement of livestock and not under
quarantine as such. He explained that this was because the incident
at Leonardville was only an isolated one that is currently under
close supervision, and could not be linked to incidents in the
Caprivi. "The problem we are facing is that people have already eaten
the meat from the dead animals that died of anthrax. So, by the time
they report the case to the authorities, there is no carcass to
Meanwhile, although the anthrax situation in the Caprivi is now
reportedly stable, it is still life-threatening. Large areas of
wildlife in the Caprivi's Ngoma, Mamili, Khaudum, Bwabwata, and
Mahangu national game parks have been affected.
Up to 10 people have so far reportedly been treated at Katima State
Hospital, after eating anthrax-infected meat. It takes up to 7 days
for symptoms to show, which normally start with itching of the skin,
resulting in sores. Serious cases with intestinal problems can also
feature symptoms of nausea, vomiting blood, and fever.
However, severe cases of anthrax in humans have not yet been reported
in Namibia. In wildlife, anthrax generally shows few signs before
they collapse and die. Blood discharge from the mouth, nostrils, and
anus is characteristic of anthrax deaths.
Yet, with the outbreak still prevailing in the Caprivi region, the
Deputy Director of Wildlife Management in the Ministry to
Environment, Sacky Namugongo, worries about the possibility of
anthrax being airborne. "The impact of anthrax is very bad in the
Caprivi, actually it's devastating, and we have contained it now.
But, the fact of the matter is that anthrax can even be airborne,
because of burning the carcasses of dead animals," said Namugongo.
So far, close to 52 buffalo, 9 elephants, 5 zebras and 50 cattle have
been burnt, after dying from anthrax. Even though burning the
carcasses of animals is the only method to contain the outbreak,
there's still concern not to do this too close to the villages. "We
are not 100 percent sure that anthrax is not airborne, so the
possibility is there," said Namugongo.
Another problem is that the 50-member staff, comprising
environmentalists, park officers, and rangers find it difficult to
monitor wild animals that mix freely with domestic cattle in the
The anthrax outbreak in Namibia reportedly comes from the Chobe
National Park in Botswana, after similar incidents in that country.
"How do we separate the cattle from the wild animals. The wild
animals carry this disease through leaving saliva on the grass and
the livestock pick it up. [No! - Mod.MHJ] This is even the case at
drinking points," explained Namugongo.
He appealed not only to the people of the Caprivi, but also those
visiting the region, to be cautious about eating any kind of meat,
especially at unregistered butcheries. "Don't eat meat of any (sick)
dead animals, rather, report the incident to the relevant
authorities, whether at the local police, traditional leaders, or
ministry of environment," cautioned Namugongo.
[Byline: Surihe Gaomas]
[While one can recover _B. anthracis_ spores from the smoke from
burning carcasses, their density is too low to pose a risk downwind.
I have never seen one report of organisms being in saliva of infected
animals, though I suppose it is not impossible. But, they would be
vegetative forms, and, in the absence of any nutrients -- saliva is
not nutritious -- they could not sporulate anyway. Watering places do
pose a risk either from dead animals in or close by the water and/or
from vultures washing themselves (and spores) off after feeding on
these carcasses. This is not the 1st time this border has had to be
closed. - Mod.MHJ]