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Namibia Hippos: 100 Die, Anthrax Eyed as Culprit

Image: Namibia Hippos: 100 Die, Anthrax Eyed as Culprit
Hippos in Namibia's Okavango River (Matthias Tödt/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

By    |   Monday, 09 October 2017 05:23 PM

More than 100 hippos died in a remote national park in Namibia last week, and investigators say anthrax could be the reason.

The Bwabwata National Park veterinary services are in the area to determine the cause of death, but Namibia's Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta told AFP “signs so far show that it could be anthrax.”

It’s possible even more hippos died, but crocodiles ate some of the corpses. Namibia’s hippo population was about 1,300 before the deaths.

Anthrax, an infection caused by Bacillus anthracis bacteria, is common to the African savannah because of its arid climate. It often kills game and cattle, and sometimes humans, AFP said.

Although anthrax spores can survive in soil for years, anthrax does not spread easily and typically enters the animal through a cut or wound, the BBC reported.

The infection sometimes spreads during the dry season because hippos rip out grass when they run out of other food sources, and spores of bacteria in the soil can be exposed, NPR reported. In previous outbreaks, people were sickened when they butchered the dead hippos for meat.

While the people know the risks, they still ate the meat in the previous outbreak because they aren’t allowed to hunt for food in the game management area; they could only scavenge. They also know they can treat anthrax with antibiotics if caught early and that local health clinics have medicine if they do get sick, NPR reported.

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More than 100 hippos died in a remote national park in Namibia last week, and investigators say anthrax could be the reason.
namibia, hippos, die, anthrax
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2017-23-09
Monday, 09 October 2017 05:23 PM
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