An anthrax outbreak that began last month in Rhino Camp refugee settlement in Arua District has now sickened 19 people, including one fatality, according to a Daily Monitor report.
The disease has now spread to Odupi and Pawor sub-counties and there is fear that it will spread to Ogoko, Omugo, Bileafe, Uriama and Okollo sub-counties due to uncontrolled movement of animals.
More than 100 head of cattle have been killed in Pawor, Odupi and Rhino Camp Sub-county.
The district veterinary officer, Dr Willy Nguma, said: “It is unfortunate that the ministry and other partners have been silent on this outbreak. The farmers do not have the drugs for vaccinating their animals”.
People in affected areas are being warned not to eat dead meat from animals.
Anthrax is a bacterial pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Some of the more common herbivores are cattle, sheep,goats, horses, camels and deer. Anthrax is a very serious disease of livestock because it can potentially cause the rapid lossof a large number of animals in a very short time. Affected animals are often found dead with no illness detected.
It infects humans primarily through occupational or incidental exposure with infected animals of their skins.
When conditions become favorable, the spores germinate into colonies of bacteria. An example would be a grazing cow ingests spores that in the cow, germinate, grow spread and eventuallykill the animal. Anthrax is caused by the bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. This spore forming bacteria can survive in the environment for years because of its ability to resist heat, cold, drying, etc. This is usually the infectious stage of anthrax.
The bacteria will form spores in the carcass and then return to the soil to infect other animals. The vegetative form is rarely implicated in transmission. Strict enforcement of quarantines and proper burning and burying of carcasses from livestock suspected to have died from anthrax is important to prevent further soil contamination with the bacterial spores.
There are no reports of person-to-person transmission of anthrax. People get anthrax by handling contaminated animal or animal products, consuming undercooked meat of infected animals and more recently, intentional release of spores.
There are three types of human anthrax with differing degrees of seriousness: cutaneous, gastrointestinal and inhalation.