Malawi officials are reporting an anthrax outbreak in hippopotami in Liwonde township in the southern part of the country.
According to Dr Patrick Chikungwa, Director of Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development with the Malawi Ministry of Agriculture, 25 hippos died in the outbreak. The hippos live and feed along the Shire river, as reported by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Bacteriological testing by the National Laboratory confirmed the bacterial etiology.
The following measures have been applied to include surveillance outside containment and/or protection zone, surveillance within containment and/or protection zone and official disposal of carcasses, by-products and waste.
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.
LISTEN: Anthrax: An interview with Dr Buddy Faries
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.
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