Anthrax outbreak kills two in Namibia, thousands at risk

A recent anthrax outbreak in the Oshikoto region of Namibia killed two people and could put thousands of others in danger.

The Oshikoto Regional Health Directorate is working to trace thousands of people who potentially ate anthrax-infected beef. Approximately 3,000 people may be at risk of anthrax infection, New Era reports.

The directorate sent officials out in the field to trace people who ate the meat of cattle that died from anthrax.

On Friday, the Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital was swamped by hundreds of people from the village of Omadhiya and other areas where the outbreak was reported.

"So many people ate the meat of these cattle," Pater Kefas Angala, the regional health director of Oshikoto, said, according to New Era. "Some were even selling kapana. That is why we believe that a high number of people are at risk."

Angala said that some people who came to the hospital for treatment already showed signs of anthrax infection, such as skin rashes and stomach aches.

Villagers apparently consumed beef from dozens of cattle who died mysteriously in Omadhiya.

Anthrax is caused by a spore-forming bacteria that can live more than 70 years in soil after an infected animal has been buried. The bacteria can transmit to humans if a person consumes the meat of an infected animal, inhales anthrax spores or comes into contact with an infected animal.

Angala warned communities not to slaughter or consume the meat of animals dying of unknown causes. He said that the funerals of anthrax victims should also be dealt with in a cautious manner, New Era reports.