The Ministry of Health and Child Care has recorded nine cases of suspected human anthrax from the individuals who ate meat from dead hippos at Mlibizi in Binga.

The ministry has been carrying out investigations in Mlibizi from the 15th of this month and found that there are 58 villagers from Saba Village who ate meat from the dead hippos.

The samples have been sent to the National Reference Laboratory in Harare for confirmation.

An awareness programme has been held at Chief Saba Village with more than 400 villagers to sensitise them on the dangers of eating meat from animal carcasses whose cause of death is unknown.

Matabeleland North provincial medical director Dr Nyasha Masuka says 1.5 kilogrammes of hippo meat was found mixed with 45 kilogrammes of goat meat on sale in a butchery at Binga Centre and has been destroyed to eliminate human contact with the infected meat.

“The suspected cases were showing symptoms of what is called a cutenus form of anthrax which affects the skin and that one is not fatal but people can also get the gastro intestinal one that affects the gastro intestinal system which is your stomach and the intestines.

“They can also get the pulmonary one which affects the lungs and they can also get what is called the meningial form which affects the brain and those three forms can be fatal,” said Dr Masuka.

The ministry is now ensuring that there is destruction of any carcasses and biltong because the bacteria from anthrax can survive in the same environment for 30 to 90 years.

“It means that even when we think the outbreak is over, if people happen to go around where it was buried or was not disinfected properly, it survives for a long time, this is what people when they do bio-terrorism, it’s very resistant,” added Dr Masuka.

The nine suspected cases and the rest of the villagers who ate the meat are now undergoing treatment which will take 14 days.

The hippos carcasses were first discovered on the 27th of last month and villagers were eating the meat despite the fact the cause of death was unknown to them.