Friday, July 27, 2012

Suspected anthrax outbreak in Buhera, Zimbabwe

Blackleg has reportedly killed over 50 cattle in the last three weeks and there are two suspected cases of anthrax, a veterinary official from Ward 27 in Buhera South has confirmed.

Blackleg normally kills livestock within 12 to 48 hours and is caused by the spore foaming, rod shaped and gas producing bacteria Clostridium chauvoei, which can live in soil for many years. The bacteria gains entrance to the animal through small punctures in the mucous membrane of the digestive tract.

Animals begin showing signs of lameness, rapid breathing, loss of appetite and high fever. Shingairai Gudyanga said the spread of the disease has been fuelled by lack of adequate grazing caused by poor rainfall. This caused cattle to eat the roots of plants, a haven for the bacteria.

“Most farmers in this area are reluctant to bring their livestock for vaccination and they do not report disease outbreaks,” she added. Blackleg is almost entirely preventable by vaccination.

The department’s efforts to control disease are hampered because people eat the animals before tests can be done. “We fail to take smear samples because by the time we find out about deaths, only the bones of the dead animal are left, with the rest of the meat either sold or dried for consumption,” she said. “Our office is almost sure that two of the cattle died due to anthrax because when we examined the carcases, there was blood in the openings of the cattle, the mouth, ears and nose and they decayed faster than the others,” she said. Read More