Five individuals in Ibanda district, Uganda, have been hospitalized after consuming meat suspected to be contaminated with anthrax. The patients, who reside in Rugaaga I&IV in Rugaaga and Rwensambya village in Keihangara sub-counties, are currently receiving treatment at Ibanda Hospital.
Anthrax, a non-contagious zoonotic disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis, is commonly found in wild and domestic animals like cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and antelopes. Humans can contract anthrax through contact with contaminated carcasses or animal products such as milk and meat.
Vincent Mugisha, the Ibanda District Surveillance Officer, stated that they were alerted to the situation by the in-charge of Kicence Health Center III after two individuals presented with symptoms resembling anthrax. Three additional cases with similar symptoms were subsequently reported at Keihagara Health Center.
Mugisha explained that blood samples were collected from both the affected individuals and the suspected animal source and sent for testing to confirm the presence of anthrax. If the disease is confirmed, Mugisha suggested that the source could be Kiruhura district, with which Ibanda shares animal markets and grazing farms. Kiruhura also borders Lake Mburo National Park, which could be a potential reservoir of the bacteria.
Godard Serushuba, the LC I Chairperson of Rugaaga IV Cell, revealed that the affected individuals had consumed meat from cows that had died without exhibiting any signs of illness. Meat dealers had purchased the carcasses at low prices and transported them to other sub-counties, where they sold the meat at a discounted price. Those who consumed the meat subsequently developed skin sores and experienced vomiting.
The Ibanda District Health Office has urged residents to avoid consuming meat from animals that have died without showing signs of illness. They have also advised residents to report any suspected cases of anthrax to health authorities promptly.