‘Anthrax outbreak now under control’
The outbreak, which was reported over a month ago, killed 177 cattle.
Cases of the disease have been recorded in Bikita, Zvimba, Mahusekwa, Makonde and Marondera, among other areas nationwide.
The department’s chief director, Josphat Nyika, told the Daily News that the vaccination drive had paid off as no reports of further outbreaks had been received in over two weeks now.
“The moment we are notified of an outbreak of the disease, the area is quarantined for 30 days following the last case.
“Anthrax is an acute disease, so usually if you do not record any causality after seven days, like now it has been over 14 days, it shows that the outbreak has been contained.
“We recorded 177 cattle deaths and we have vaccinated 76 201 in several areas to contain the outbreak.
“Our team has been all over distributing part of the 811 000 doses of the anthrax vaccine we had in stock. We are left with over 100 000 doses that will remain in stock in case of any new outbreaks.
“But for now we are happy we have not received any new cases as yet, which is a milestone and we are monitoring the situation,” Nyika said.
Anthrax is a serious disease caused by a spore-forming bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, which can be found naturally in soil and can remain alive in contaminated soil for decades.
Zimbabwe usually experiences anthrax outbreaks during the rainy season as rains wash away the top soil, exposing dormant bacteria in the soil.
At least 87 people were reportedly affected as a result of the outbreak.
While Nyika could not comment on the condition of the affected people, referring questions to the ministry of health, he said: “We are encouraging the public to desist from eating meat, especially from animals that would have died on their own. People should eat meat from registered abattoirs.”
Slaughtering of animals for human consumption is governed by the Public Health Act which requires people to make use of registered abattoirs, but Zimbabwe has numerous reported cases of people who practice home slaughtering, which at times results in cases of human anthrax.