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WHO Records More Than 1,100 Anthrax Cases In Five African Countries

Five countries in the East and its southern region are experiencing an upsurge of anthrax outbreaks, with over 1,100 suspected cases and 20 related deaths reported since the beginning of 2023.

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A total of 1166 suspected and 37 confirmed cases have been recorded in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – where the disease is endemic, with seasonal outbreaks every year – according to data reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), Zambia.

Of the five countries, Zambia is witnessing its largest outbreak since 2011, with nine of its 10 provinces affected. As of 20 November, Zambia had reported 684 suspected, 25 confirmed cases, and four deaths. Only sporadic cases have previously been reported in animals and humans in the country.

The outbreaks are presenting varied patterns in the affected countries. In Kenya, three deaths have been reported this year compared with zero fatalities from over 200 suspected cases in 2022.

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While the disease is endemic in animals in Malawi, the country reported its first-ever human case this year. Human anthrax cases have been reported in three districts in Uganda, with 13 deaths compared with two deaths in 2022. The high case fatality ratio is due to patients reporting late to health facilities. In Zimbabwe, human cases have been reported every year since 2019, underscoring the need for stronger preventive actions.

READ MORE: Important Facts About Anthrax Disease

“To end these outbreaks, we must break the cycle of infection by first preventing the disease in animals. We are supporting the ongoing national outbreak control efforts by providing expertise as well as reinforcing collaboration with partner agencies for a common approach to safeguard human and animal health,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease that commonly affects domestic and wild herbivores. Humans acquire the disease through contact with infected animal carcasses or exposure to contaminated animal products. Animal-to-animal and human-to-human transmission of anthrax does not typically occur, although rare records of person-to-person transmission have been reported with cutaneous anthrax.

Cutaneous anthrax is the most common of the three forms of the disease. It accounts for more than 95% of human cases worldwide.

The outbreaks are presenting varied patterns in the affected countries. In Kenya, three deaths have been reported this year compared with zero fatalities from over 200 suspected cases in 2022.

While the disease is endemic in animals in Malawi, the country reported its first-ever human case this year. Human anthrax cases have been reported in three districts in Uganda, with 13 deaths compared with two deaths in 2022. The high case fatality ratio is due to patients reporting late to health facilities. In Zimbabwe, human cases have been reported every year since 2019, underscoring the need for stronger preventive actions.

“To end these outbreaks, we must break the cycle of infection by first preventing the disease in animals. We are supporting the ongoing national outbreak control efforts by providing expertise as well as reinforcing collaboration with partner agencies for a common approach to safeguard human and animal health,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease that commonly affects domestic and wild herbivores. Humans acquire the disease through contact with infected animal carcasses or exposure to contaminated animal products. Animal-to-animal and human-to-human transmission of anthrax does not typically occur, although rare records of person-to-person transmission have been reported with cutaneous anthrax.

Cutaneous anthrax is the most common of the three forms of the disease. It accounts for more than 95% of human cases worldwide.

The post WHO Records More Than 1,100 Anthrax Cases In Five African Countries appeared first on Information Nigeria.

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