At least 36 residents of Tanzania’s Northern District of Hai have contracted anthrax, an infection caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, after eating the carcass of a cow, authorities said on Thursday.
Reports from the area show that the victims presented themselves to the district hospital and regional referral hospital with all the symptoms of anthrax including swollen eyes, lesions on the face, hands, cheeks and fingers.
Elias Machange, Head of Livestock and Fisheries Department at Hai District Council, Kilimanjaro Region, said the disease was reported few days ago when people in the area ate meat from a cow.
He said the meat had all the symptoms of anthrax, a serious illness caused by a microbe called bacillus anthracis that lives in soil.
“This is so because people in the affected villages have a tendency of eating meat which wasn’t approved by the responsible authorities.
“That’s why it is important for people to eat meat which have been approved by the responsible authorities,’’ Mr. Machange said.
Yohana Sintoo, Hai District council executive director also confirmed the outbreak of the disease, saying it had affected three villages of Sanya Station, and Tindigani in Kia ward and Nkwasira village in Masama West ward.
“It is true all the patients were rushed to the district hospital and others to the regional hospital,’’ he said, adding that some of them were discharged soon after recovering.
The official said that so far, a team of health experts had been dispatched to the affected villages.
“They are sensitising the public on the best ways of taking precautions on the disease,’’ said Sintoo.
Helga Mchovu, Chairman of the Hai District council suggested the need for the government to carry out regular vaccination on livestocks to address such challenges.
Last April, Rombo District was one of the districts in Kilimanjaro Region hit hard by the disease, which claimed one life, while many others were infected.
Anthrax spores are spread by dust, carrion-eating birds and grazing animals, causing fever and rapid death.
Humans are normally infected only by handling the carcasses, skins or wool of infected animals.