The death of up to 16 hippopotamus in the Binga District of Zimbabwe is being investigated by state officials and anthrax is at the top of the list for the cause of death, according to local media. The Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) said initial testing indicates anthrax.
The reported hippo deaths were first reported on Mar. 27 near the Zambezi River.
The government is advising the public not to consume animals that died of unknown causes and to seek medical attention if symptoms are present.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax is most common in wild and domestic animals but can also be seen in humans exposed to tissue from infected animals, contaminated animal products or directly to B anthracis spores under certain conditions.
Depending on the route of infection, host factors, and potentially strain-specific factors,anthrax can have several different clinical presentations. In herbivores, anthrax commonly presents as an acute septicemia with a high fatality rate, often accompanied by hemorrhagic lymphadenitis.
B. anthracis spores can remain infective in soil for many years. During this time, they are a potential source of infection for grazing livestock. Grazing animals may become infected when they ingest sufficient quantities of these spores from the soil.In addition to direct transmission, biting flies may mechanically transmit B. anthracis spores from one animal to another.
People can get anthrax by handling contaminated animal or animal products, consuming undercooked meat of infected animals and more recently, intentional release of spores.