Role of food insecurity in outbreak of anthrax infections among humans and hippopotamuses living in a game reserve area, rural Zambia

Mark W. Lehman, Allen S. Craig, Constantine Malama, Muzala Kapina-Kany’anga, Philip Malenga, Fanny Munsaka, Sergio Muwowo, Sean Shadomy, Melissa A. Marx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In September 2011, a total of 511 human cases of anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) infection and 5 deaths were reported in a game management area in the district of Chama, Zambia, near where 85 hippopotamuses (Hippopotamus amphibious) had recently died of suspected anthrax. The human infections generally responded to antibiotics. To clarify transmission, we conducted a cross-sectional, interviewer-administered household survey in villages where human anthrax cases and hippopotamus deaths were reported. Among 284 respondents, 84% ate hippopotamus meat before the outbreak. Eating, carrying, and preparing meat were associated with anthrax infection. Despite the risk, 23% of respondents reported they would eat meat from hippopotamuses found dead again because of food shortage (73%), lack of meat (12%), hunger (7%), and protein shortage (5%). Chronic food insecurity can lead to consumption of unsafe foods, leaving communities susceptible to zoonotic infection. Interagency cooperation is necessary to prevent outbreaks by addressing the root cause of exposure, such as food insecurity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1471-1477
Number of pages7
JournalEmerging infectious diseases
Volume23
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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    Lehman, M. W., Craig, A. S., Malama, C., Kapina-Kany’anga, M., Malenga, P., Munsaka, F., Muwowo, S., Shadomy, S., & Marx, M. A. (2017). Role of food insecurity in outbreak of anthrax infections among humans and hippopotamuses living in a game reserve area, rural Zambia. Emerging infectious diseases, 23(9), 1471-1477. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2309.161597