Zim villagers contract suspected anthrax after eating dead hippos

Harare - Nine villagers from northern Zimbabwe have contracted suspected anthrax after eating the meat of dead hippos, the state broadcaster is reporting.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) said as many as 58 villagers ate the meat in Saba village, Binga district.

The type of anthrax the nine appear to have contracted is cutaneous anthrax, as most human anthrax infections are. With proper treatment, most people who contract this kind of anthrax survive.

However, the incident is extremely worrying given the large number of people who may have been exposed to the hippo meat.

Anthrax spores can survive in the environment for decades.

Local authorities and conservationists initially thought the mysterious deaths of up to 11 hippos in the district this month were due to pesticide use.

The number of dead hippos has now gone up to 16.

Some possibly-infected hippo meat was found on sale mixed with goat meat in a butchery, according to a medical officer quoted by ZBC.

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