Anthrax outbreak declared over

17 April 2018 | Environment

The anthrax outbreak in the western part of the Bwabwata National Park in the Kavango East Region has been contained and declared over.

To guide the government in future outbreaks it has been resolved to develop a national action plan for the containment of anthrax outbreaks.

The Anthrax Containment Team confirmed that the outbreak was declared over, with the last mortality caused by the disease on 3 December.

Mass deaths of hippos had been reported on Namibia's side of the Okavango River since 1 October. The mass deaths were confirmed on 7 October by government officials who flew over the Okavango River with a helicopter. The government officially declared an anthrax outbreak on 11 October.

According to the environment ministry a total of 242 carcasses - 155 hippos, 86 buffaloes and two impalas – were removed and disposed of during the operation that involved 37 personnel.

“The last mortality recorded and disposed of was a buffalo on 3 December 2017,” said ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda.

He said during the outbreak no clinical cases of anthrax were detected in people or livestock.

The health ministry put 727 people on prophylaxis treatment against anthrax, mainly in the Mukwe Constituency. Livestock movement restrictions that were put in place before the outbreak in the Mukwe Constituency remain in place until further notice.

A total of 3 000 cattle and 1 010 goats were vaccinated against the disease.

The environment ministry, with the assistance of Namibia Helicopter Services, also vaccinated 216 wild animals which included 125 sable antelope, 65 roan, 15 tsessebe, 10 hippo and one lion.

The ministry thanked the NamParks IV Project for its assistance in providing protective gear for personnel and maintenance equipment that was used in containing the outbreak.

“Sensitisation and awareness campaigns were conducted and the cooperation of the public was remarkable during the outbreak. We thank the members of the public for their cooperation and patience during the operation,” said Muyunda.

The ministry further thanked the Botswana government and the Air Wing of the Namibian Police for their assistance.

The Anthrax Containment Team consisted of representatives from the environment ministry, agriculture ministry, health ministry and fisheries ministry.

ELLANIE SMIT

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