At least 10 buffaloes have died following an outbreak of anthrax at Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officials confirmed.
The deaths have thrown the wildlife officials into panic mode as they fear the infectious disease caused by bacteria and which commonly affects both wild and domestic animals, might spread and cause more damage.
Speaking to journalists on Sunday, April 7, KWS spokesperson Paul Gathitu disclosed they had taken samples to the regional laboratory in Nakuru where they were tested and confirmed the animals died of anthrax.
“Several of them have died and we can confirm this through lab analysis. Others by looking at the signs and openings on the carcasses,” Gathitu said.
According to the KWS officials, a buffalo that dies of anthrax and is eaten by scavengers can easily lead to contamination of the environment and more infections.
“We are currently doing both ground and aerial surveillance to ensure we find any carcasses that is fresh to avoid more infections,” Gathitu added.
In a move to further mitigate possible spread of the deadly disease, the already dead buffaloes were disposed off through burning.
The anthrax outbreak has put in grave danger lives of many other wild animals at the national park, including the endangered species like the white rhinos which easily interact with buffaloes and are most likely to be affected.
“We do not want these species to be infected. For the last three days, we have been vaccinating and monitoring the species, especially the white rhinos. The situation is under control,” Gathitu assured.
TUKO – Kenya news reported the 10 buffalo deaths were recorded between March 29 and April 7, 2019.
The last time there was an anthrax outbreak at the 51-year-old Lake Nakuru National Park was in 2015 and at least 100 buffaloes and two rhinos reportedly died of the infectious disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anthrax is a rare but serious illness caused by a spore-forming bacterium, Bacillus anthracis.
It mainly affects livestock and wild animals, but humans are also not safe.
“People can get sick with anthrax if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products. Contact with anthrax can cause severe illness in both humans and animals.Humans can become infected through direct or indirect contact with sick animals,” the CDC notes.
The anthrax bacteria usually take between 10 days and six weeks to kill.
However, it can be treated with antibiotics such as Cipro or doxycycline if administered before symptoms set in.
“Treatment usually fails once symptoms set in, since it does no good to kill the bacteria once they make large amounts of toxin,” Mayo Clinic notes.
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