More feared infected in Zimbabwe anthrax outbreak

Sixteen more people in northeastern Zimbabwe are considered to be at risk for contracting anthrax after consuming infected meat.

Outgoing Rusape District Medical Superintendent Dr Mohammed Khaled confirmed the additional risk but said that the situation was under control. Khaled said he has been attempting to warn people not to eat meat from animals that have died from unknown causes, according to

"According to the report we got, 16 more people are at risk because they are suspected to have eaten the same meat," Khaled said, reports. "The area is still under surveillance because more people could be at risk. To date, 20 cases have been confirmed, and investigations point out that another 16 others are at risk."

Anthrax is believed to have killed hundreds of animals in the area since October at the earliest, but it was not until human cases became symptomatic that veterinary authorities were informed. Farmers had allegedly concealed information about their animals' deaths because they feared arrest.

Officials have moved to vaccinate cattle in the region and have urged farmers to cooperate more fully by not moving cattle out of the area and not slaughtering sick cattle, reports.

Anthrax outbreaks occur naturally in Zimbabwe with relative frequency because anthrax spores are capable of living in the ground for decades. During the driest months of the year, usually September and October, the spores are more likely to be ingested by grazing animals.