People living along a stretch of 139 km from Mahango Core area in Bwabwata National Park in Mukwe Constituency – where anthrax was confirmed – to Katere Village in Ndiyona Constituency are to avoid fishing in the river and are
also to avoid the use of boats on the river, where 109 hippos and 20 buffalos died from anthrax earlier this month.
“Please be informed that the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources hereby invites the public not to catch, handle, move or eat fish from the affected area due to the outbreak of anthrax, in this case from the Botswana border up to the Quito River conjunction at Katere, a 139 km stretch of the Kavango River in the Kavango East Region,” the Fisheries Ministry said in a statement last week.
The ministry said the movement of nets and boats from the affected area should also not take place.
“It is just a notice, because of the anthrax outbreak. It’s not really a ban, it’s just a precautionary notice to minimise the movement of boats, nets and people from the infected area to the rest of Namibia, because we don’t know how far the anthrax has spread. The outbreak was in the mahango core area, but some hippos went as far as up to Andara side from the park,” said the acting chief fisheries biologist Francois Jacobs.
“People must just take notice, because we do not know if the anthrax affects fish; we do not know if through fish consumption people can contract the anthrax. That’s why we’re notifying people living along this affected area.
“But it is not illegal to fish. People can still continue fishing, we just want them to be vigilant. You know, if you are fishing and you put your hands in the water and you have a sore you can easily get the infection,” Jacobs added.
Anthrax is an infection caused by the bacterium bacillus anthracis and is spread by contact with the spores of the bacteria. There is a possibility and concern that fish that have been in contact with anthrax-contaminated water can spread the spores.