Malawi confirms human anthrax case

Ministry of Health says the country has confirmed a case of anthrax in human.

According to a statement issued by Secretary for Health Dr. Samson Mndolo, the affected individual was clinically diagnosed with anthrax at a health facility in Mzimba district.

Reads the statement: “The Ministry of Health wishes to inform the public about a recently confirmed case of anthrax in human in the country.

“The affected individual was clinically diagnosed with anthrax at a health facility in Mzimba district and the diagnosis was confirmed by the National Reference Laboratory at the Public Health Institute of Malawi (PHIM) in Lilongwe on November 27, 2023.”

Dr. Mndolo says the Ministry is working closely with the Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development, healthcare professionals, local authorities, and international partners such as the World Health Organization to ensure proper surveillance, response, and timely treatment of the patient.

To prevent further infections, the Health Ministry recommends avoiding of contact with sick or dead animals, especially those displaying unusual symptoms, not consuming meat or other products from animals suspected of being infected with anthrax.

Dr. Mndolo added that people need to use protective clothing, such as gloves and masks, when handling potentially infected animals or their products and properly cook meat to ensure any potential bacteria are destroyed.

The health secretary has since assured the public that Ministry of Health capacity to confirm diagnosis of anthrax and treatment is also available across the country`s health facilities.

Anthrax is primarily an animal disease caused by bacteria called Bacillus anthracis, commonly found in animals such as hippos, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and others.

“However, it can occasionally affect humans who come into contact with infected animals or animal products. The transmission to humans usually occurs through direct contact with infected animals or by handling contaminated animal products, such as hides, wool, or meat,” Dr. Mndolo said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture and partners is actively conducting investigations and working to educate local communities, and livestock owners on the signs, symptoms, and preventive measures related to anthrax.

Said Dr. Mndolo: “We urge all individuals to remain vigilant, report any suspected cases, and cooperate with the health authorities to prevent further spread of the disease. The Ministry will provide regular updates on the situation from time to time.”

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