News and Information

Five hospitalised after contracting anthrax
October 21, 2004

FOUR children and an adult are being treated for anthrax at the Katima Mulilo State Hospital after contracting the disease from infected animal carcasses.

Hospital official Eunice Makapa told The Namibian that two other people - a six-year-old girl and a 36-year-old man - are believed to have contracted anthrax, but it has not yet been confirmed.

Makapa said the five people who have been diagnosed as having skin anthrax are a 62-year-old woman, a four-year-old girl and three boys aged nine, 10 and 14.

Michael Likando, the Director for the Caprivi Health Directorate, told The Namibian that the first anthrax patient admitted to the hospital was the 10-year-old boy.

His symptoms included "typical anthrax skin sores with black centres".

Likando explained that there are three types of anthrax that affect humans.

One variety is contracted by inhaling airborne anthrax spores, another by touching infected animal carcasses and the third is contracted by eating infected meat.

After the child's admission last week, the hospital sent a team to the Masokotwani area, where he came from.

The team diagnosed four more cases of anthrax skin infection in the area.

"They told our officials that they had contact with carcasses of animals that died of anthrax and even went to the extent of eating the meat," said Likando.

They were brought to the hospital on Friday and are now being treated in a separate ward.

Likando describes their condition as stable.

"There is no one who is in a life-threatening situation," he says.

Likando says health officials have launched a campaign to teach people how to identify anthrax infection.

He calls on people in the affected areas not to eat the meat of animals that die of disease.

Anthrax broke out in eastern Caprivi last month, killing at least 22 buffalo and seven elephants.

The Ministry of Agriculture is vaccinating all cattle in the area.

The vaccination campaign will be extended to the rest of the Caprivi region at a later stage.

The disease is believed to have spread to Caprivi from Botswana's Chobe National Park, where it has killed a large number of animals.


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