29 July 2010

Uganda: 82 Hippos Killed By Anthrax in Queen Elizabeth National Park

An anthrax outbreak in Queen Elizabeth National Park located in western Uganda is still raging prompting the government to warn people living around the park to desist from eating game meat.

The chairman of the National Anthrax Task Force Dr Nicholas Kauta told journalists on Thursday that so far, 82 hippos and nine buffaloes have been confirmed dead following the outbreak in June. He said the most affected areas are those surrounding Kazinga Channel and lakes Edward and George.

As a national response, he said, the task force is implementing a multi-pronged response which includes undertaking a base line study to determine the extent of the outbreak and affected species through carrying out carcass management, marine and terrestrial patrols and sample analysis.

He warned people around the area not to graze animals in the park, report all sicknesses and deaths in wild and domestic animals to authorities and not to consume meat from sick and dead animals.

He said there will be a ring vaccination of livestock in the national park and all health centres have been put on high alert.

Anthrax is caused by bacteria (bacillus anthracis) in the atmosphere. Animals mainly herbivores get it through contaminated grass, soil and water.

Humans can acquire it through eating contaminated meat and animal products from infected animals.

The park has often experienced attacks in 1954 and in 1994 and 2004. In 2004, about 300 hippos died.

The Wild Life Authority says there is no cause of alarm that all animals in the park might die because the beats have natural immunity to the disease.

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