Possible Anthrax Epidemic Kills over 100 Hippos in Namibia

Anthrax is a disease which is caused when bacterial spores which can survive in water or soil for years enter the body and start producing toxins

Anthrax is a disease which is caused when bacterial spores which can survive in water or soil for years enter the body and start producing toxins

More than 100 hippopotamuses have died over the past week in Bwabwata National Park, in northeast Namibia, leaving authorities scrambling to explain the cause.

Namibian officials believe the sudden deaths may have been caused by anthrax outbreak.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease which is associated with arid climates and known for killing big game, cattle, and sometimes humans.

Environment rep Colgar Sikopo tells New Era that an anthrax outbreak "mainly occurs when the level of the river is so low" that it exposes bacteria that can hide in soil for years. An arrangement of assaults in 2001 saw individuals tainted by Bacillus anthracis spores sent in envelopes in the USA, causing five deaths.

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Pohamba Shifeta, Namibia's minister of environment, told AFP that there were concerns that crocodiles may have eaten some of the hippo casrcasses, which could spread the disease further.

Scientists believe the death toll was particularly high because once hippos started dying, other hippos became cannibals ate the carcasses. The spores usually enter the body by eating infected meat or handling infected animal products.

Anthrax can also be found in pools of stagnant water that form during heat waves and dry seasons.

According to the estimation from Government officials, before the mass death hippo population of Namibia was around 1,300.

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If confirmed, the anthrax outbreak wouldn't be the first, or even the worst, in recent years. A 2004 outbreak in Uganda left 300 hippos dead, and a heatwave in Siberia led to 2,400 reindeer (and one human child) dying from anthrax infection.

"We strongly advise that [humans] must not consume this meat".

Kannyinga also said such outbreaks were frequent. Anthrax is most basic in agrarian areas of Central and South America, Africa, focal and southwestern Asia, southern and Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean.

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