RUSTENBURG -Three people are in a serious condition after eating meat from animals that died of anthrax in the Mahusekwa, Marondera district in Zimbabwe.

The diagnosis was made at Chimbwanda Clinic last week and confirmed at Mahusekwa Hospital on Monday. 

Marondera district's veterinary officer, Dr Kramer Manyetu, said that upon investigation, it was established that the affected trio consumed meat from two cattle that died on December 30.  

"No meat was still available when the affected property was visited. The two cattle deaths were reported at Chimbwanda West dip tank, which has a census of 800 cattle.

"The combined census for a 10 kilometre radius is 4 500 cattle covering a total of three dip tanks, namely Chimbwanda West (800), Chimbwanda communal area (2 276) and Nyandoro (1 458)," Manyethu told the Herald on Friday. 

"Our staff and the ministry of health and child care are in the area and so far we can confirm that it is only one homestead affected."

Vaccination started on Friday; over 800 000 doses of the anthrax vaccine had been received from Botswana's vaccine institute to deal with outbreaks during the rainy season, said Manyetu.

Anthrax is a life threatening infectious disease caused by bacteria that normally affects animals, particularly ruminants.  The disease affects all warm blooded animals, including human beings.

Signs of anthrax include sudden death of livestock, rapid decomposition of the bloated carcasses and tarry blood exiting from natural openings.

Opening of anthrax carcass will lead to the formation of anthrax spores that are resistant to environmental changes and will contaminate the soil or area for more than 40 years.

"The public should not handle, buy or eat meat that has not been inspected. Anthrax carcasses should never be opened, skinned or eaten. Instead, they should be buried deep in the ground,” said Manyetu.

"It is also an offence to sell to the public, meat that has not been processed in an abattoir and inspected and certified as unconditionally fit for human consumption."

Farmers were advised to report all cattle deaths to their nearest veterinary officers.

African News Agency