22 000 Cattle Inoculated against Anthrax

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK At least 22 000 head of cattle have been vaccinated against anthrax in the Caprivi Region since the exercise commenced a week ago. An official from the Directorate of Veterinary Services in the region, Dr Frank Chitate, yesterday expressed satisfaction with the exercise, adding that the directorate is likely to achieve its target within the next seven weeks. “So far, we have no problems. The vaccination exercise is going well and we hope to achieve the target,” Chitate said. An anthrax outbreak in Caprivi was confirmed roughly three weeks ago. The disease has so far claimed the lives of 20 zebras, 14 elephants and 4 buffalos in the Chobe National Park, which is Botswana’s largest wildlife conservation area that borders Namibia and where hundreds of wild animals have died. There are about 160 000 cattle in Caprivi and so far no cases of death have been reported. On Monday last week, 16 veterinary officers and supervisors were dispatched to different parts of the region to vaccinate cattle against anthrax. The exercise follows an urgent meeting that was held between Namibian and Botswana officials recently. While Botswana started vaccinating animals a month ago, Namibia only started with the exercise a week ago after purchasing 180 000 doses of vaccines at a cost of N$108 000 from South Africa. In addition, 5000 doses of vaccines for rabies were also purchased for dogs and cats. The anthrax outbreak was first reported in the Chobe wildlife area in September 2006. Vaccination campaigns for this year started already in July as the Caprivi region is known to have sporadic cases of the disease. Chitate appealed to farmers in the area to render their support to officials in the field. He also pleaded with people in the region not to eat the meat of animals that die from unknown illnesses. A 28-year-old man was admitted to the Katima Mulilo State hospital for suspected anthrax. Although the tested specimen could not confirm if the young man indeed had anthrax, Chief Medical Officer in the Caprivi Region Dr Mubita Saasa told New Era that he showed symptoms of the disease. Anthrax is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which affects cattle, sheep and goats and usually cause death. People working with sick animals or their products can suffer sores, swelling, fever, pneumonia, blood poisoning and other ailments.