An outbreak of the bacterial disease, anthrax, has killed some 90 wildebeests and 15 gazelles in the Selela section of Monduli district in northeastern Tanzania, according to local media accounts.
According to Monduli District Commissioner Idd Kimanta, the case counts are based on the number of carcasses discovered; however, based on the movement of the animals, it is feared that more animals may be dead or infected.
The number of wild animals that have succumbed to anthrax can be added to the 60 domestic animals that have died recently.
Anthrax vaccinations are being performed on remaining domestic animals in the section and the public is advised to abstain from handling or consuming potentially infected meats.
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 herbivores (eg, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes) 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.