An abnormally high mortality among hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius) in the Luangwa River valley between June and November 1987 and estimated to number more than 4000 deaths was attributed to anthrax. Several other species, particularly Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and elephant (Loxodonta africana), appear to have been affected. A smaller outbreak of anthrax in hippos occurred between August and September 1988, approximately 100 km up-river. A field study was arranged in August 1989 to assess the extent of environmental contamination by Bacillus anthracis and the risks to people in the area, to study possible methods of control and to equip local laboratory staff for continued monitoring of the disease. The study confirmed the enzootic status of the region. The characteristics of the outbreaks of anthrax in 1987 and 1988, and the results of the field study are described.
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