People arbitrarily butchering or eating meat of buffaloes and cows that were sick or died of unknown causes may be at a very high risk of infection with anthrax from such cattle, the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Animal Health Department has warned.
The warning was included in an urgent dispatch issued by the department to the departments of agriculture and rural development as well as animal health agencies in six northern provinces including Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Lai Chau, Son La, Cao Bang and Lao Cai, urging them to promptly strengthen measures against anthrax.
So far this year, 14 human anthrax cases have been documented, including 13 in Dien Bien and one in Ha Giang, and these two provinces have recorded a total of four outbreaks of anthrax in cattle, the department reported.
The cause of anthrax transmission is mainly because cattle have not been vaccinated against anthrax, according to the department.
“The risk for anthrax to continue occurring in Ha Giang and Dien Bien and to spread to other localities is very high, due to the trade, transport and consumption of livestock that may have contracted the disease,” it stated.
In order to control and prevent anthrax from spreading on a large scale, the department requested the six aforementioned provinces to destroy all diseased cattle, disinfect all relevant locations, and set up checkpoints to tighten control the transport of livestock and their products from epidemic areas to outside.
It is urgent to vaccinate cattle in places at high risk of anthrax as well as in locations where cattle are slaughtered, and in areas where people buy meat of suspected infected cattle for consumption.
Local health authorities should provide people with signs and dangerous nature of anthrax, and request residents not to arbitrarily transport, slaughter, sell, give, donate or consume cattle infected or suspected to be infected with the disease.
Anthrax is a highly infectious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a type of gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria, which is found naturally in soil and affects domestic and wild animals globally, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Humans can contract anthrax by interacting with infected animals or contaminated animal products, and the disease can lead to severe conditions in both humans and animals, the CDC warned.