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Anthrax Outbreak: Zambia records 684 cases, four deaths

Zambia has recorded at least 684 suspected human cases of anthrax, including four deaths in an unprecedented outbreak, which marks the first major occurrence spanning nine out of 10 country provinces.

This was disclosed in the World Health Organisation’s Disease Outbreak News on Friday.

The UN body warned that the risk of the event spreading within Zambia is assessed to be high due to the unrestricted animal movement and carcasses within and between provinces.

It added that the majority of symptomatic cases were epidemiologically linked to confirmed cases and not tested.

According to WHO, the latest large-scale outbreak reported in Zambia occurred in 2011 with a total of 511 suspected cases

It also said the risk at the regional level is high due to the frequent movement of both animals and people between Zambia and its neighbouring countries, such as Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by a bacteria called Bacillus anthracis that typically affects ruminants (such as cows, sheep, and goats). The bacteria produce extremely potent toxins which are responsible for the symptoms, causing a high lethality rate in the pulmonary form.

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