At least 33 people in Bikita district (Masvingo province) have been diagnosed with cases of anthrax as of Thursday, January 16. The outbreak, which hit Bikita the week before, has caused 40 cattle deaths as of Thursday. A notice from the Ministry of Health and Child Care urged individuals in the area to "desist from consuming uninspected meat," and avoid all contact with dead animals as a precaution.
Anthrax is caused by the Bacillus anthracis bacteria and can be deadly, although not easily spread. Symptoms of anthrax contamination include small blisters grouped together, swelling, skin sores, fever, chills, nausea, and body aches. It largely survives as spores that can lie dormant in soil for years before entering an animal through a cut or wound. Most frequently, the infection results from exposure to spores from infected animals, dead or alive, or products from infected animals. Anthrax can be treated with antibiotics, but treatment must start soon after infection.
Individuals in the area are advised to comply with all government recommendations and to take measures to avoid the risk of contamination (e.g. do not eat beef). Seek immediate medical attention if any of the aforementioned symptoms are exhibited during or after travel to areas affected by the outbreak.
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