Don’t Eat Sick Animals

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Chief Medical Officer in Caprivi, Dr Mubita Saasa, has strongly appealed to people in the region not to consume meat that comes from any animal that has died from natural causes to avoid contracting anthrax. This follows the case of a 28-year-old man who was admitted to the Katima Mulilo State hospital for suspected anthrax early this month. Although the tested specimen could not confirm if the young man indeed had anthrax, the doctor told New Era that he showed symptoms of this disease in humans. “The specimen could not confirm it because the man was already on antibiotics,” he said. However, the man had a swollen face, which is one of the common symptoms of the disease. Anthrax victims swell mostly in the face, upper limbs and chest, and the skin on the swollen areas usually turns dark. The chief medical officer also revealed that recently three people reported themselves to the hospital after they ate meat from an elephant carcass. But the three, the doctor added, did not show any signs of anthrax. “I am asking them not to eat meat from any animal that died on its own. They should not even touch them,” he warned. Following an outbreak of anthrax in Botswana in September and in Namibia in October, officials from the two countries convened an urgent meeting last week to discuss control measures that could be implemented to prevent increased deaths in the wildlife population. So far, 32 wild animals have died of the disease in Namibia since the end of last month while in Botswana at least 170 wild animals are believed to have died of anthrax. On Monday, the Directorate of Veterinary Services in the Caprivi Region started with the mass vaccination of cattle in the area. The directorate could not indicate how many animals have so far been vaccinated, saying that a report will only be available on Friday. At least 180 000 doses of vaccines at a cost of N$108 000 were bought from South Africa last week with an additional 5 000 doses of vaccines for rabies in cats and dogs. Vaccination campaigns for this year started already in July as the Caprivi is known to have sporadic cases of the disease. The last case was reported in January 2005 when three cattle were affected. The worst anthrax problem in the Caprivi was reported in 2004, when scores of livestock and dozens of elephant and buffalo died. The Directorate of Veterinary Services in the region has appealed to farmers to give their cooperation to veterinary officers currently in the field to vaccinate cattle.