Pamela Shumba Senior Reporter
THE anthrax outbreak, which left 45 head of cattle dead and 53 people hospitalised in Umzingwane District has been brought under control.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, responsible for livestock Paddy Zhanda yesterday said the government and its partners joined hands to fight the disease.
He was in Umzingwane District yesterday, where he visited a number of dip tanks to assess the situation, following outbreak of the disease two weeks ago. He said the disease had only been recorded in Umzingwane District.
“We have moved in swiftly as the government and managed to control the outbreak. The last two deaths were recorded before Christmas. We have not recorded any deaths after that and I’m happy that we’re on top of the situation.
“I’m also happy that no people died from the disease. All the infected people have been treated and discharged. We’re working with partners, including the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the local leadership to make sure that we’re on the same page in fighting this disease,” said Deputy Minister Zhanda.
He said the ministry was working flat out to make sure the disease does not spread to other districts or provinces.
“There are known hot spots that have been affected by anthrax here in Matabeleland South. With the few resources that we have, we’re working flat out to vaccinate the affected animals so that we don’t have outbreaks in other areas that were not affected before,” said Deputy Minister Zhanda.
He added the government was educating villagers on how to protect themselves from the disease, particularly on the issue of meat consumption.
“We have engaged the villagers, who are the owners of these cattle and we’re encouraging them not to eat animals that have died from unknown causes. There’s greater temptation to eat the animals because the disease targets the healthier cattle.
“We have also put some measures to restrict movement of cattle and goats and we also don’t allow consumption or slaughter of animals that have been infected by anthrax,” he said.
The deputy minister said the partners have explained the situation to the farmers so that they understand and appreciate why they have to go through a long process before moving domestic animals.
He said the farmers have also been taught how to destroy the animals that die from anthrax.
“They have to be buried. Leaving them in the open can cause the disease to spread fast to other areas,” said Deputy Minister Zhanda, adding that he was happy that the last outbreak of foot and mouth, a disease that also kills animals was last recorded four months ago in the area.
Umzingwane MP, Cde William Dhewa commended the villagers for adhering to the advice they received from the experts, saying it helped to control the situation.
The ministry mobilised 16, 000 doses of anthrax vaccines for Matabeleland South to prevent further infections in both cattle and humans.
Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium bacillus anthracis.
Most forms of the disease are lethal and it affects mostly animals. It can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected meat.