KENYA – Kenya’s Kisii County has reported an Anthrax outbreak that has left 10 people hospitalized in various hospitals in the county.

The outbreak, reported last week in Sugubo village, Bobasi constituency has so far claimed the lives of at least ten animals.

The constituency is vast bordering Transmara to the West, Nyaribari Masaba, Nyaribari Chache to the North, and Bonchari to the North East. It also annexes some parts of the Kisii town suburbs.

The villagers within Sugubo and Nyacheki contracted the disease after feasting on contaminated meat. They are, however, out of danger according to doctors attending to them.

To this end, the county has deployed more veterinary officers to the region to carry out a free vaccination campaign to mitigate further deaths.

“We have already imposed a curfew in readiness for free vaccination of the animals from Monday 9 to 18 this month,” Agriculture County Executive Magret Obaga said. 

The Executive, however, said primary vaccination was being concentrated around Sugubo ahead of the official rollout to take place at Nyamache.

Meanwhile, Sugubo villagers believe the outbreak may have been caused by cross-border interactions between the animals sold locally and those in Transmara.

One local family reported that all of their livestock were wiped out in a single day.

Obaga encouraged the locals to report any additional breakout occurrences as response plans were being made.

“We appeal to those who present symptoms related to anthrax to seek medical treatment,” the County CEC stated.

Bobasi sub-county Veterinary Officer Dr. Richard Ongwae, in a statement to newsrooms, said the quarantine restrictions will remain in place until further notice.

“Being a veterinary officer appointed by the County Government of Kisii, I do hereby require the following animals namely; cattle sheep, and goats and their products to be detained within Subugo village, Subugo sublocation, and its environs,” noted Dr. Ongwae.

In the meantime, Dr. Ongwae ordered that no additional animals should be brought into the prohibited area until he or the responsible inspector gave the go-ahead.

Furthermore, he issued a directive that the sites must first be thoroughly disinfected before moving the animals there.

The Veterinary Officer also directed that carcasses of all animals dying from the disease “be either buried at the depth of not less than four feet below the surface or burnt at the expense of the owner.”

Anthrax is a serious zoonotic infection caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. It occurs naturally in soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world. 

Domestic and wild animals can become infected when they breathe in or ingest spores in contaminated soil, plants, or water.

People can get sick with anthrax if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

Last year, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone declared an outbreak of human anthrax in the country after identifying three lab-confirmed cutaneous anthrax cases in Karene district.

The investigation was conducted as a follow-up to reports of sickness and death of animals in the adjacent Port Loko district between March and April, with reported consumption of meat in surrounding communities.

People can contract anthrax by handling contaminated animals or animal products, consuming undercooked meat from infected animals, and, more recently, by releasing spores on purpose.

Symptoms of anthrax

The symptoms of anthrax depend on the type of infection and can take anywhere from one day to more than two months to appear. 

Cutaneous Anthrax includes a group of small blisters or bumps that may itch, swelling can occur around the sore, A painless skin sore (ulcer) with a black center that appears after the small blisters or bumps, and most often the sore will be on the face, neck, arms, or hands. 

Inhalation Anthrax involves fever and chills, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, confusion or dizziness and cough, nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains, headache, sweats (often drenching), extreme tiredness, and body aches. 

Gastrointestinal Anthrax symptoms involve fever and chills, swelling of neck or neck glands, sore throat, painful swallowing, hoarseness, nausea and vomiting, especially bloody vomiting, diarrhoea or bloody diarrhoea, headache, flushing (red face) and red eyes, stomach pain, fainting and swelling of the abdomen (stomach). 

Injection Anthrax includes fever and chills, a group of small blisters or bumps that may itch, appearing where the drug was injected, a painless skin sore with a black center that appears after the blisters or bumps, swelling around the sore and abscesses deep under the skin or in the muscle where the drug was injected.

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