Anthrax Outbreak: 64 Hospitalised, 47 Cattle Dead in Gutu, Bikita

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By Tonderai Saharo 

Masvingo: At least 64 people have been hospitalised in Bikita and Gutu after eating anthrax contaminated meat with 47 cattle dying from the outbreak while government has also moved in to vaccinate 22 000 herd of cattle.

The outbreak continues to cause untold suffering among communities in the affected two neighbouring districts with cattle dying in large numbers while hungry villagers have been hospitalised after eating contaminated meat.

However, Masvingo provincial veterinary officer Dr Ernest Dzimwasha told his department was working round the clock to contain the outbreak in Gutu and Bikita district.

He said his department had managed to source for enough vaccines to fight the outbreak in the entire province while urging farmers to immediately report any cases of sickly livestock to his department.

“Since the outbreak, we have lost 47 herds of cattle in Gutu and Bikita districts while 64 people from these two districts have been hospitalised after coming into contact with the contaminated meat,” said Dzimwasha. 
“We quarantined the two districts and there is no movement of livestock in or out of these areas for the next 30 days while we are scaling up the vaccination programme to all corners of the two districts.

“To date, over 22 000 cattle have been vaccinated and the programme is still ongoing as we have enough stocks of the vaccine,” Dr Dzimwasha said.

He said the affected people were still receiving treatment at various health centres in the two districts and are in a stable condition. 

Anthrax is a deadly disease for livestock which causes the rapid loss of large numbers of cattle in a very short time. Affected livestock is often found dead with no illness detected and the disease can also be transmitted from animals to humans when one comes into contact with an infected carcass.

Hungry villagers in affected areas are gambling with their lives and eating meat from cattle that died from anthrax despite repeated warnings from government to desist.