WHO warns of an unprecedented anthrax outbreak and calls for an emergency plan

WHO warns of an unprecedented anthrax outbreak and calls for an immediate emergency plan

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised an alert to an anthrax outbreak that originated in Zambia, but could quickly spread throughout the country and neighboring countries if an emergency plan is not put in place immediately.

The WHO explained that the risk is high because the population of Zambia often handles the carcasses of animals that have died suddenly and by eating meat from infected animals, with cutaneous and gastrointestinal involvement. anthrax.

Therefore, it warns that this outbreak has an unprecedented scope because it affects nine out of ten provinces in the country and there is a “very high” risk that it will cross borders due to constant movement of animals and people, especially in Angola, Botswana, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

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In its latest bulletin, the WHO warned that previous outbreaks had been limited to the northwest and western provinces, with sporadic cases over the years.

What is anthrax?

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by a gram-positive, bacilliform bacterium known as Bacillus anthracis.

Anthrax occurs naturally in the soil, and commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world.

How do people get anthrax?

People become infected with anthrax when the spores enter their body. It occurs when a person breathes in spores, drinks water or eats food contaminated with spores, or when spores enter the body through cuts or scratches on the skin.

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They can also contract anthrax if they come into contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products. Most people with anthrax are exposed when they work with infected animals or animal products, such as wool, fur, or hair.


Symptoms of anthrax depend on the type of infection and can take from one day to more than two months to appear. These are the most common:

  • fever and chills
  • Chest discomfort
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Cough
  • Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Sweating (usually heavy sweating)
  • weary
  • Body pain

Types of anthrax

The most common form of anthrax infection and considered the least fatal. Infection usually develops between 1 and 7 days after exposure.

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Pulmonary anthrax is considered the deadliest type of anthrax. Infection usually develops within a week of exposure, but may take up to two months.

  • Gastrointestinal anthrax:

This is the least common. Infection usually develops between 1 and 7 days after exposure.