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Officials with the Ghana Health Service report a suspected anthrax outbreak in the Binduri District of the Upper East Region.

According to Dr Emmanuel Kofi Dzotsi, the Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, one person has been confirmed dead while 11 others are infected with suspected anthrax after consuming the carcass of dead cattle.

“On June 1, 2023, the Regional Health Directorate received notification for two anthrax cases with one death in Binduri District following the consumption of dead cattle.

“In all, four cattle have died in the affected community. So far, 11 suspected cases have been identified and contact tracing efforts are underway in the community.”

Anthrax is a bacterial pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Ruminants such as bison, cattle, sheep and goats are highly susceptible, and horses can also be infected.

Anthrax is a very serious disease of livestock because it can potentially cause the rapid loss of a large number of animals in a very short time. Affected animals are often found dead with no illness detected.

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 eventually kill the animal. Anthrax is caused by the bacteriumBacillus anthracis. This spore forming bacteria can survive in the environment for decades because of its ability to resist heat, cold, drying, etc. This is usually the infectious stage of anthrax.

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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.