By Staff Reporter
CHIPINGE – Two villagers were admitted to St Peter’s Hospital here after consuming meat suspected to have been infected with anthrax.
This has also prompted government veterinary officials to dispatch a rapid response team to vaccinate all local livestock.
Ward 20 councillor Charles Mugidho confirmed the development saying he has raised the red flag and has since alerted the authorities to take decisive measures.
The Division of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Agriculture’s rapid response team is in the area to deal with the current outbreak which has also claimed dozens of cattle.
The outbreak has been detected in Chibuwe, Dakate, Zamchiya and Chisumbanje where at least 15 cattle are reported to have died in areas close to wildlife conservancies, according to the Manicaland provincial Civil Protection Unit (CPU).
Provincial development coordinator (PDC) Edgars Seenza, who heads the provincial CPU, confirmed the outbreak and the hospitalisation of the two villagers after they had eaten the infected beef.
The PDC said the situation was now under control as the CPU was working closely with local structures and the veterinary department to identify hotspots.
“We have received those reports from our local structures and we have since responded as the Civil Protection Unit and dispatched a team which is now on the ground.
“The suspicions were raised from two patients who got sick and were admitted at St Peters Hospital with anthrax-like symptoms, but these were treated and discharged,” said Seenza.
He said they responded quickly to educate local communities and vaccinate animals.
“This area is already under constant surveillance.”
The acting director Division of Veterinary Services, Felistas Ndhlovu said animals infected with anthrax die within a few days, while for humans it can also be fatal but if diagnosed in time, can be treated.
“Chipinge district is a designated anthrax zone where the movement of cattle is prohibited and receives annual vaccination for livestock to curb the spread of diseases,” she said.
Ndhlovu added the current vaccination exercise, which was now due, is targeting 87 000 herd of cattle, up from 14 000 vaccinated last year in October to curb the spread of anthrax to outlying areas.
“We are vaccinating against the disease in this area, which is a gazetted anthrax zone and there is an annual vaccination plan, which was due as the last was in October last year.
“Our challenge is that people fail to bring their cattle for one reason or the other, these difficulties in failing to round up all local cattle means that there are gaps in our annual vaccinations.
“We usually make retrospective responses after persons who consume meat from the dead cattle develops symptoms of anthrax. Late reporting is our key problem,” she said.