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SAWMA Namibia: Anthrax Alert in Caprivi


Namibia: Anthrax Alert in Caprivi

By Luqman Cloete, The Namibian

25 July 2013


THE Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has issued an anthrax alert to members of the public and farming communities in the Caprivi Region.


This comes after tests confirmed that an elephant died from the the viral disease in the Masikili-Nakabolelelwa area recently.


In a press statement, the ministry's Permanent Secretary, Joseph Iita warned members of the public at large not to touch, open or eat meat from any animal carcass that dies on its own or of unknown causes.


According to the statement, by the time veterinary officials arrived at the scene of the dead elephant, the local villagers in the area had already opened the carcass and helped themselves to the meat.


Urging people in the vicinity of Masikili and Nakabolelelwa who had contact with the elephant in question to visit the nearest clinic for appropriate advice, Iita warned: "Handling such meat or eating meat from such animals puts the people at serious risks of contracting anthrax".


Iita said anthrax is a vaccine-preventable disease in livestock, and urged livestock owners to vaccinate their animals against the disease once a year.


"Anthrax carcasses should be disposed of by deep burial or burning without opening them. This limits contamination of the environment by the causal bacteria," Iita added.


Anthrax is a serious illness caused by a spore-forming bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. Although anthrax affects mainly livestock and wild game, humans can become infected through direct or indirect contact with sick animals. Normally, anthrax isn't transmitted from person to person, but in rare cases, anthrax skin lesions may be contagious.


Most often, anthrax bacteria enter the human body through a wound in the skin. People can also become infected by eating contaminated meat or inhaling the spores.


The signs and symptoms, which depend on the infection, can range from skin sores to nausea and vomiting or shock.


Iita said prompt treatment with antibiotics can cure most anthrax infections contracted through the skin or contaminated meat. He said inhaled anthrax is more difficult to treat and can be fatal.

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