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People living on Lake Edward shores face anthrax threat, three dead

Lake Edward

Kasese, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Three people suspected to have contracted anthrax in Rubirizi district have died, triggering panic among residents on four landing sites on Lake Edward. The deceased have been identified as Wilson Nuwagaba, John Patrick Kagwa and Allen Twongyeirwe, all residents of Kisenyi in Katuguru Sub County.

Dr. Henry Mugaya, the Rubirizi District Veterinary Officer, says although they are yet to confirm that the four were killed by anthrax, it has claimed over 30 goats and 15 sheep since they often graze with buffaloes, hippos and water bucks in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Dr. Mugaya says four people presented with symptoms of anthrax and were treated at Rugazi Health Center. Bashir Hangi, the Uganda Wildlife Authority Spokesperson, confirmed the anthrax outbreak in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Hangi says they are managing the situation and working with local leaders to sensitize communities about Anthrax. John Patrick Mayanja, the Vice Chairperson Kishenyi Landing site, says anthrax mostly breaks out during the dry season killing wild animals in the park and domestic animals like goats and sheep.

“Hippos started dying in February, it’s when we started seeing Uganda wildlife authorities pick the carcass and bury them,” he said.

Jessica Kyomuhendo says her three goats died in the farm but didn’t present any symptoms.

Harriet Nakamya, the Rubirizi District Resident Commissioner, said they have suspended the sell and slaughter of all animals to prevent further deaths. She says two of the deceased ate game meat while the other ate meat from a goat that was killed by game animals.

Dr. Mugaya said they have already ordered for vaccines to immunize animals as they sensitise people around Kishenyi, Kazinga, Katunguru and Kashaka landing sites.

Anthrax is an infection usually transmitted from wild animals to people who eat the flesh of infected animals. Anthrax causes skin, lung, and bowel disease and can be deadly and is asymptomatic with vomiting, blister and nausea.

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