Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Anthrax kills 109 hippos in Bwabwata

Anthrax kills 109 hippos in Bwabwata

We suspect an anthrax outbreak, but our veterinary team is still to confirm that, ' deputy director of the park Apollinaris Kannyinga told the Namibian.

More than 100 hippopotamuses have died over the past week in Bwabwata National Park, in northeast Namibia, leaving authorities scrambling to explain the cause. One service official said Namibia had never observed anything like this. A past flare-up in Uganda in 2004 remaining no less than 180 hippos dead, while a year ago more than 2,300 reindeer died in the wake of being tainted with Bacillus anthracis amid a heatwave in Siberia. "The cause of death is unknown but the signs so far show that it could be anthrax", Minister for Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta told AFP.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease commonly associated with dry climates like the African savannah, where it kills cattle and occasionally humans.

Kannyinga said the first 10 deaths were reported on October 1 but had risen by the end of the week.

"This is a natural cause and with the animals dying people should not panic, as it won't negatively affect tourism in the area", said Colgar Sikopo.

He also said they are now monitoring the situation, and that the dead hippos are yet to be disposed of.

A previous outbreak in Uganda in 2004 left at least 180 hippos dead, while a year ago more than 2,300 reindeer died after being infected with anthrax during a heatwave in Siberia. It needs rapid treatment with antibiotics or it can be fatal. He cautioned that the correct loss of life could be higher because of the likelihood that crocodiles may have eaten a portion of the remains.

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