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Only three anthrax hippo carcasses disposed of: Shifeta

WINDHOEK, 10 OCT (NAMPA) – Only three hippopotami carcasses of the 109 that died of suspected anthrax have been disposed of to date, said Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta.
Reading a ministerial statement in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Shifeta said the destruction of carcasses has started since high mortality cases of the water mammals were observed during the period 01 to 07 October 2017.
Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by bacteria known as ‘Bacillus Anthracis’. Anthrax affects both wild and domestic herbivores like cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, elephants, kudus, as well antelopes.
Due to the rapid course of the disease, most animals which get anthrax are found dead and may ooze dark blood from the mouth, nostrils and/or anus. Anthrax carcasses normally bloat and decompose rapidly.
Shifeta said it was assumed that the low level of the Kavango River led to the anthrax bacteria, which naturally occurs in the environment and becomes active.
“Due to the nature of the anthrax disease, local communities have been sensitised not to touch any carcass or consume any meat from wildlife found dead, as a precautionary measure,” he said.
Handling such meat or eating meat from such an animal puts people at serious risk of contracting anthrax.
Symptoms of anthrax in people include fever which may be accompanied by chills or night sweats; flu-like symptoms like coughs, which include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, sore throats, followed by difficulty swallowing, headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal distress, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
Another symptom is a sore, especially on the face, arms or hands that starts as a raised bump and develops into a painless ulcer with a black area in the centre.
According to the environment ministry, the national populations of hippopotamus is estimated at just over 3 000 and buffaloes over 7 000.
The population of hippopotami in Bwabwata West (a stretch of 24 kilometres of the Kavango River) increased from an estimated 384 animals in 2013 to 539 animals in 2017, the minister said.
Ministry of Environment and Tourism staff discovered 10 hippopotami carcasses during an unrelated operation on 01 October, which prompted the ministry to conduct aerial assessments.
At the end of the two aerial assessments, a total 109 hippopotami and 20 buffalo carcasses were counted.
A third mortality count is planned to be conducted by boat on Thursday, Shifeta stated.

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