Minister of health visits Namibian anthrax patients

Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services Richard Kamwi visited the Oshikoto region of Namibia, where an outbreak of anthrax was reported in January, on Friday.

Kamwi went to the Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital in Onandjokwe to visit patients and familiarize himself with the situation. Godwin Murufu, the principal medical officer for the hospital, said that 21 patients with skin lesions were treated at the facility, including two patients who died, the Namibian reports.

"Anthrax has been confirmed in the laboratory from the blood taken from some of the affected people," Murufu said, according to the Namibian.

An elderly woman and her son who died as a result of anthrax were thought to have eaten the meat of a cow that died of anthrax. Kamwi said that there is no anthrax vaccine for humans, but that anthrax can be prevented by avoiding contact with infected animals or their carcasses.

Kamwi also reminded people in the area of the dangers of measles, another disease that recently affected residents in the Oshikoto region.

"Both (measles and anthrax) are deadly, but fortunately they are also both preventable and curable," Kamwi said, according to the Namibian. "Please do not touch (the carcasses of infected animals). You should rather report it to the nearest veterinarian."

Murufu said that 6,288 people have received treatment for anthrax since the outbreak. Anthrax is caused by bacteria that spreads through contact with the tissues of infected livestock or wild animals, the Namibian reports.