In a follow-up on the anthrax outbreak in Binga district in western Zimbabwe, health officials put the outbreak tally at 14 cases of anthrax including 1 death (case fatality rate of 9.1%) reported from two communities, Siansundu and Binga.

Bacillus anthracis bacteria using Gram-stain technique
Anthrax bacterium/CDC

This anthrax outbreak in humans was preceded by an epizootic in hippopotamus. On 2 April 2017, a community leader reported the deaths of hippos along Mlibizi River in Binga. The National Parks and Wildlife authority confirmed the outbreak of anthrax in hippos on 12 April 2017 when animal samples tested positive for Bacillus anthracis. A total of 14 hippos have been reported dead and it was openly known that the local communities consumed the carcasses.

The following public health actions have been taken:

  • A multi-disciplinary district rapid response team conducted a preliminary outbreak investigation from 15 – 17 April 2017, following notification of the district health team of the suspected outbreak on 14 April 2017.
  • Active surveillance has been established including case search in the affected communities. Close contacts were systematically identified and are being monitored.
  • Biological specimens were collected from the suspected case-patients to facilitate confirmation of the outbreak. Samples are being collected from the subsequent new cases.
  • Health education has been intensified in the affected communities to dissuade the community members from consuming carcases and encourage those exhibiting signs and symptoms to report to the health facilities.
  • Additional essential medicines and other medical commodities have been supplied to the local health facilities where patients are being managed.
  • Inspections were conducted in the local butchery from where hippo’s meat laced with goat’s meat were discovered, confiscated and destroyed.


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