Anthrax has killed hippos in the Okavango River, following a suspected outbreak of the disease in neighboring Namibia. Earlier this week Namibian media reported that more than 100 hippos had died in the Bwabwata National Park, in the northeastern part of the country, with anthrax the suspected cause. The Okavango River flows through Namibia before entering Botswana.
Wild animal anthrax is a natural occurrence in many areas in southern Africa. Outbreaks of anthrax in hippos are well recognised across the region. In dry seasons, there is concentration of both animals and anthrax spores in the reduced volumes of water, and the infection is able to spread rapidly among the hippos.
Tourists and others are not at risk for anthrax if they avoid direct contact with the dead hippos. New sightings of hippo carcasses should be reported to game reserve officials.
(Information from NICD and Reuters, Gaborone)