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Anthrax Outbreak in Zambia: WHO Warns of Rapid Spread and High Human Health Risk

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned in its latest evaluation that the anthrax outbreak declared in Zambia on November 1 could quickly spread throughout the country and neighboring countries if an emergency plan is not put in place immediately.

According to the WHO balance sheet, citing the Zambian health authorities, since the declaration of the outbreak until November 20, 2023, there have been confirmed four deaths and 684 suspected cases.

The risk to human health is highwarns the WHO, given the multiple exposures of the known population when handling the carcasses of animals that had died suddenly and when eating meat from infected animals, with the subsequent associated cutaneous and gastrointestinal anthrax.

In its latest bulletin, the WHO warns that this outbreak has an unprecedented scope because affects nine of the country’s ten provinces and there is a “considerably high” risk of it crossing borders given the frequent movement of animals and people, in particular to Angola, Botswana, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Previous outbreaks were limited to the northwestern and western provinces, with sporadic cases over the years. Of note, Zambia reported anthrax outbreaks in both humans and animals in the Western Province in 2017 and in the Eastern Province in 2016 and 2011.

2023-12-09 11:55:18
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