Anthrax – Kenya

Two people have died and several others are receiving treatment for suspected anthrax at Tharimu village in Maara, Tharaka-Nithi County (Kenya), after feasting on a sick cow during the festive season.

They reportedly fell ill after slaughtering and eating the animal on December 20, 2022. They are said to have eaten the meat after a local man who claimed to be a veterinary officer gave them the greenlight to do so.

“The cow was about to die when my son, Nyaga and two other people slaughtered it. They called on the man to test the meat and he declared it safe for human consumption”

Photo: Bacillus anthracis from an agar culture with spores (blue).

Anthrax is an infection caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It can occur in four forms: skin, lungs, intestinal, and injection. Anthrax is spread by contact with the bacterium’s spores, which often appear in infectious animal products.

The skin form presents with a small blister with surrounding swelling that often turns into a painless ulcer with a black center.

The inhalation form presents with fever, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

The intestinal form presents with diarrhea which may contain blood, abdominal pains, nausea, and vomiting.

The injection form presents with fever and an abscess at the site of drug injection.

Human anthrax is most common in Africa and central and southern Asia, though it can occur anywhere. Skin infections represent more than 95% of cases.

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