A suspected human anthrax outbreak that began in early April in the Koubia district in the north of Guinea has sickened five, including one fatality, as of Apr. 27.

Bacillus anthracis/CDC
Bacillus anthracis/CDC

The index case, a 35 year old man from Hamdallaye village developed ill-health on Apr. 7. He presented to Matakaou health centre on Apr. 11 with fever, swelling of the lower lip with black crusts, difficulty to swallow, and shortness of breath.

His condition continued to deteriorate and he was referred to Labé regional hospital on two days later and died on Apr. 18.

The patient said he slaughtered a cow on Apr. 1 and the whole family ate the meat. Part of the meat was sold off to a local butcher.

Three of his children, all under 10 years of age,  developed milder illnesses. In addition, another 9 year old boy from a different family (who consumed the same meat) developed symptoms consistant with anthrax.

As of May 3, all the children were showing good clinical improvement.

Anthrax was not laboratory confirmed in any case; however, the attending clinician made a provisional diagnosis of anthrax and veterinary officials established that the slaughtered cow was actually sick.

More than four dozen people from six families in the community reportedly bought and consumed the meat.

The following public health actions were taken:

  • From 15 – 16 April 2017, the Veterinary services carried out vaccination of animals in and around the affected area. Anthrax vaccine was administered to 118 cows, 25 goats and 27 sheep. Movement of livestock from the affected communities has been quarantined.
  • Active case finding and awareness raising on signs and symptoms of anthrax is being undertaken in the community.
  • Case management is being provided in the local prefectural hospital and health center using antibiotics, antipyretic and dressing of cutaneous lesions.
  • Risk communication and social mobilization are being conducted in the affected communities, aimed to identify the persons who consumed the meat, encourage early health care seeking behavior, etc.