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426 000 vaccines for anthrax hotspots

The Veterinary Services Department has acquired 426 000 vaccines of anthrax from Botswana and deployed them to hotspots such as Chipinge, Gokwe North and South, Makini, Mazowe, Makonde and Hurungwe,among others.

The country requires 1,2 million vaccines annually to curb the disease.

Acting Deputy Director of Veterinary Field Services Dr Reverend Spargo said vaccination is currently underway in hotspots areas adding that there are 22 human  anthrax cases that have so far been reported in  Gokwe South , Gokwe North and Hurungwe.

Dr Spargo said by January all the 1,2 million vaccines will be deployed.

He said it is critical for farmers to report cases of anthrax, adding that the majority of people who contracted the disease are consuming the infected meat.

“Anthrax cases are found in the country but we have acquired vaccines from Botswana to curb the spread of the disease.

“We are carrying out awareness campaigns with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure that people are well protected from the disease.

“The major challenge we face is that farmers do not want to lose their animals so instead of burning down the animals they slaughter them.

“As a result we end up having people affected by anthrax,”he said.

Dr Spargo said local production of anthrax will also be considered in the recent future.

Recently the department started vaccinating cattle in Binga along the Zambia border as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the disease into the country.

This follows the reports from World Health Organisation (WHO) that five countries in East and southern Africa including Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe are experiencing anthrax outbreaks, with more than 1100 suspected cases and 20 related deaths reported since the start of the year.

Department of Veterinary Field Services director Dr Jairus Machakwa recently  mentioned that they are also conducting Cross border meetings with neighbouring countries for coordinated disease control efforts.

Anthrax is a soil-borne disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis.

Anthrax is most common in wild and domestic herbivores for example  cattle, sheep, goats, camels,hippos and antelopes which pick up the bacterial spores from the ground while grazing.

He also warned the public against eating meat from animals that die from suspected cases, adding that animals that die of anthrax  should be excluded from the food chain, and should be disposed safely by the members of the Veterinary Services.

The disease is common when grazing is scarce, and animals graze too close to ground, especially after the first rains and grass is starting to sprout and when soil is disturbed during land preparation for farming, exposing the spores in the soil (most common during this period October to December).

Anthrax can also be transmitted to humans exposed to infected animals or contaminated animal products through handling (most common), ingestion and inhalation during preparation of meat especially in closed environment.

The public is warned against eating meat from animals that die on their own.

Animals that die of anthrax particularly should be excluded from our food chain, and disposed of by deep burial or burning, supervised by members of the Veterinary Services.

All anthrax cases must be notified to the Veterinary Services.

Signs of anthrax include sudden death of livestock, rapid decomposition of the bloated carcasses and tarry blood coming out of all natural openings. Blood from a contaminated carcass is brownish and does not clot.

Herald

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