11 May 2017

Kenya: Anthrax Outbreak Confirmed in Makongeni,Thika

Thika — A slaughterhouse in Makongeni, Thika has been shut down after six people were admitted at Thika level 5 Hospital following an anthrax outbreak suspected to have emanated from the abattoir.

Kiambu County Chief Officer Health Stephen Njuguna told Nation by yesterday evening they had six reported cases. He told Nation that county is finalizing on the full report of the cases and will give an updated report once it is done.

Medical Superintendent at the Thika facility, Andrew Toro, says the first patient was brought to hospital on Friday last week with symptoms of the bacterial infection. They had skin lesions and blood tests on the patients confirmed they were infected with the disease--which affects herbivorous mammals such as cows and goats--and were immediately put on treatment in an isolation room.

The patients are said to be meat loaders at the slaughter house. The first patient is said to have been pricked by a bone as he worked at the slaughter house while the three others are said to have come into skin contact with an infected carcass. It is not yet clear where the other two got infected.


People get the disease caused by the Bacillus anthracis bacteria from infected animals or when exposed to contaminated animal products, therefore caution is given against consuming or handling uninspected meat. There are three types of anthrax in humans: cutaneous (skin), gastrointestinal (stomach and the intestines), and pulmonary (lungs). The vast majority of cases are cutaneous, caused by anthrax bacteria/spores infecting a cut or abrasion. Anthrax can be treated with antibiotics.


There are three types of anthrax, each with different symptoms:

Cutaneous, or skin, anthrax is the most common form. It is usually contracted when a person with a break in their skin, such as a cut or abrasion, comes into direct contact with anthrax spores. The resulting itchy bump rapidly develops into a black sore. Some people can then develop headaches, muscle aches, fever and vomiting.


Gastrointestinal anthrax is caught from eating meat from an infected animal. It causes initial symptoms similar to food poisoning but these can worsen to produce severe abdominal pain, vomiting of blood and severe diarrhoea.

The most severe form of human anthrax is called inhalation or pulmonary anthrax. It is the rarest form of human anthrax. It is caused when a person is directly exposed to a large number of anthrax spores suspended in the air, and breathes them in. The first symptoms are similar to those of a common cold, but this can rapidly progress to severe breathing difficulties and shock.


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