Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Anthrax may have caused the sudden death of 100 hippos

Page no 1by Lugeretzia Kooper Anthrax kills 109 hippos in Bwabwata Page no 1by Lugeretzia Kooper Anthrax kills 109 hippos in Bwabwata
Melissa Porter | 11 October, 2017, 11:35

A suspected anthrax outbreak has killed 107 hippos in one of Namibia's biggest game parks in the Zambezi region in Namibia in just one week.

"We first noticed the deaths of 10 hippos last week Sunday, but the number increased during the week", Bwabwata National Park director Apollinaris Kannyinga told the Namibian. However, officials said it's a scene they've seen before. A past flare-up in Uganda in 2004 remaining no less than 180 hippos dead, while a year ago more than 2,300 reindeer died in the wake of being tainted with Bacillus anthracis amid a heatwave in Siberia. He went to explain that outbreaks like this "mainly occurs when the level of the river is so low".

A previous outbreak in Uganda in 2004 left at least 180 hippos dead, while past year more than 2,300 reindeer died after being infected with anthrax during a heatwave in Siberia.

Namibia's environment minister Pohamba Shifeta told news agency AFP that the country's veterinary services were working on establishing the exact cause.

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

"This is a natural cause and with the animals dying people should not panic, as it won't negatively affect tourism in the area", he added.

Currently Namibian officials are focusing on preventing human exposure to the virus, by restricting contact with the dead hippos and suggesting locals not to eat them. It needs rapid treatment with antibiotics or it can be fatal.

Scientists believe the death toll was particularly high because once hippos started dying, other hippos became cannibals ate the carcasses.