Nine people in northern Zimbabwe’s Binga district are suspected to have contracted anthrax. According to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), these were among the 58 people in Saba village who ate the meat of dead hippos.
The nine suspected patients appear to show symptoms of cutaneous form of anthrax. This form of the disease is not deadly and most sufferers survive after getting a proper treatment. However, the sheer number of people who are at risk of contracting it.
Another concerning trend is the death of several hippos in the area. Officials believe that the animals are dying because of being exposed to chemical pesticides. Around 16 hippos have died under mysterious circumstances in the area in a span of one month.
ZBC also reported that medical officers found hippo meat that they suspect to be infected with anthrax bacteria. They found it mixed with goat meat in a butchery. Preliminary findings have shown the presence of anthrax-causing bacteria in a lot of hippo meat. Authorities are collecting more samples to investigate the matter and reach a proper conclusion on the issue.
Over the past few years, many poachers have been known to use cyanide to kill elephants around the Zambezi valley. However, cyanide poisoning has been ruled out in this case as other aquatic animals or the people who ate the hippo meat are not showing symptoms of cyanide poisoning.