The World Health Organization reported on Monday that there are currently five countries in East and southern Africa experiencing outbreaks of anthrax. These outbreaks have resulted in over 1,100 suspected cases and 20 deaths so far this year.
A combined count of 1,166 potential cases had been recorded in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), laboratory tests confirmed 37 of these cases. The organization noted that these five countries experience seasonal outbreaks annually, with Zambia currently facing its most severe outbreak since 2011 and Malawi reporting its first human case in 2020. Uganda has reported a total of 13 fatalities.
Anthrax typically impacts domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats, as well as wild plant-eating animals. Humans can contract the disease through contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products. According to WHO, anthrax is not usually spread between humans, although there have been isolated incidents of person-to-person transmission.
Bacterial spores are responsible for causing Anthrax, which has been linked to the use of weaponized versions during the 2001 attacks in the US. These attacks resulted in five deaths and 17 individuals becoming ill after coming into contact with Anthrax spores in letters that were mailed.
The bacteria that causes anthrax is also found in soil naturally.
According to a distinct evaluation of the Zambia epidemic, which was the most alarming, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that as of November 20th, 684 possible cases had been recorded in the southern African country, resulting in four fatalities. Nine out of Zambia’s ten provinces have reported human cases of anthrax. In a specific case, 26 individuals were suspected of acquiring the illness from consuming tainted hippopotamus meat.
The World Health Organization stated that there was a significant possibility for the Zambian outbreak to spread to surrounding nations.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the outbreaks in five countries were likely caused by various factors such as extreme weather conditions, lack of food security, underestimation of the risk, and coming into contact with infected animals while handling their meat.
News from Africa by AP: https://apnews.com/hub/africa