Kenya: Nakuru Begins Anthrax Vaccinations After Buffalo Deaths

Following the deaths of 10 buffaloes at Lake Nakuru National Park, vaccination to combat the deadly anthrax disease kicked off Thursday morning at Naishi in Molo.

County Director of Veterinary Services Mr Enos Amunynzu said the exercise will continue until the disease is contained.

He said they would cover Solai, Naivasha, Rongai, Bahati and Gilgil sub-counties.

Three months ago, an outbreak of anthrax was reported in Solai, one of the major livestock breeding areas in Nakuru.

The new cases come as the county plans its second major annual goal auction in Solai on April 17.


Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai said enough drugs to vaccinate all livestock near the park had been distributed.

He said the county director and state agencies had also mobilised teams to ensure the disease did not spread from the source.

In line with this, he reported that a sheep had died of anthrax in Solai but that nobody ate the meat.

With anthrax being a zoonotic disease (one spread from animal to humans), Mr Kimtai said the government was applying the One-Health approach in its management.


Dr Obadiah Njagi, Director of Veterinary Services and Kenya's Chief Veterinary Officer, said human behaviour is a major factor in the spread of the disease so awareness creation is paramount.

Infection in animals occurs through ingestion of contaminated pasture and soil. This is common when they graze close to the ground as is the case with a prolonged drought - when there isn't enough pasture.

The spores can remain buried in soils for years and can be brought to the surface through road and dam constructions, deep tilling, soil erosion and flooding. They can also be inhaled.

The opening of anthrax carcasses exposes the bacteria to oxygen which transforms them into spores.

The disease spreads to humans through contact with tissues, fluids and waste from infected animals, as well as ingestion or inhalation of the spores.


Dr Njagi said a key symptom of infection with anthrax was the oozing of blood from all orifices.

"This is because blood infected with anthrax does not clot. However, this doesn't happen sometimes and should not be solely relied on in cases where the animal dies suddenly," he explained.

"Any sudden death should be suspected as a case of anthrax and should be reported to veterinary authorities. Anthrax carcasses also lack rigor mortis and fail to stiffen as is common in dead animals."

Animals infected with anthrax die suddenly - within two or three hours apparent normalcy. Some exhibit symptoms such as high temperatures and difficult breathing, and also collapse and convulse before dying.

"Farmers should avoid grazing their animals in the park or close to other contaminated areas and avoid consumption of meat from dead animals," the doctor said.

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