Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Anthrax Eyed in Deaths of 109 Hippos

Anthrax Eyed in Deaths of 109 Hippos

Reports indicate that dozens of the lifeless hippos were seen at the Bwabwata National Park in the north-east of the country. "Once we have the results of the cause of death then we can decide on the way forward", Pohamba Shifeta, the Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism, says.

The precise cause of the animals' deaths has yet to be confirmed, but some workers are putting it down to a disastrous outbreak of anthrax.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease commonly found in Sub-saharan Africa. He noted that the death toll could be higher, as crocodiles may have eaten some of the carcasses.

Bacillus anthracis can be found naturally in soil, and has been known to affect wildlife when water levels recede, which is what Colgar Sikopo, director of Namibia's parks and wildlife division, believes is what happened in this instance. 'As we speak, the number of deaths is 109.

There were an estimated 1,300 hippos in Namibia before the latest deaths, so this means a significant proportion of them are affected.

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In 2004, an outbreak of anthrax left at least 180 hippos dead in Uganda.

Kannyinga also said such outbreaks were frequent. One service official said Namibia had never observed anything like this.

Humans can become exposed to the spores by handling infected animals tissues or pelts or by breathing them in, which is especially deadly, according to the FDA.

He also said they are now monitoring the situation, and that the dead hippos are yet to be disposed of.

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