The Veterinary Services Department has vaccinated more than 20 000 cattle as part of the move to reduce cases of anthrax in Matabeleland North Province.

8000 of these were vaccinated in Binga following the death of 20 hippos from the disease between the end of March and the beginning of April.

The hippos shared the same grazing pastures with the livestock in the local community.

According to Matabeleland North Provincial Veterinary Officer, Dr Polex Moyo, the programme was spread to areas such as Nkayi north, Tsholotsho, Lupane and parts of Binga, which are traditionally known to have an outbreak of anthrax.

“If there is drought, animals graze too low and ingest part of the soil. That is when the anthrax goes into the animal. For this year when we had floods, the water lifts up the spores onto the grass or into the water and then when the animals are drinking then they ingest the spores so climatic changes aggravate the spread of the disease,” he said.

Anthrax is a soil born disease which can stay in the area for 60 years or more and is highly influenced by climate change.

The vaccination exercise, which targeted for completion by end of July, is being done to minimise the chances of livestock contracting the disease.