Authorities in Tanzania are reporting an anthrax outbreak in the Northern District of Hai, in which at least 36 people were infected with the serious bacterium after consuming anthrax-tainted cow, according to a Premium Times report.

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

Hai District council executive director, Yohana Sintoo confirmed the outbreak saying it affected three villages of Sanya Station, and Tindigani in Kia ward and Nkwasira village in Masama West ward.

The victims presented at the hospital with symptoms of  swollen eyes, lesions on the face, hands, cheeks and fingers.

Head of Livestock and Fisheries Department at Hai District Council, Kilimanjaro Region, Elias Machange said, “That’s why it is important for people to eat meat which have been approved by the responsible authorities.”

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracisAnthrax 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.