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Anthrax in the Northern Areas

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Lonehill_Birders
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Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Lonehill_Birders » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:42 pm

Can anybody shed some light on the situation in the northern section of the park where I believe, Anthrax has re-appeared. How bad is it, is it spreading, and should visitors report sightings of sick animals to authorities?
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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Scipio » Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:20 pm

Anthrax is a common occurence in the park, this year it does seem the conditions for the spores were more than ideal, thus a worse outbreak with even some predators infected. :?

But not to worry, it does happen and as soon as the rains come, it is over. :thumbs_up:

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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Imberbe » Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:01 pm

Yes, it is a natural part of our ecosystem, and not a natural disaster. That is partly why one should never pick up bones of dead animals in the bush, the spoor can remain viable for many years in the bones and environment.
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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Lonehill_Birders » Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:36 pm

Somebody on another forum reported seeing a very sick lion near Shingwidzi, and was told that it had most probably been infected by eating part of a diseased animal. Apparently vultures that feed on infected carcasses aren't infected. Let's all hope that rain comes to the park soon.
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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Scipio » Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:49 pm

Vultures, and even hyena usually do not get infected at all, Lions do and it is probably correct that they saw an infected Lion.

It is however importent to know that this happens basically every year, and humans(Except if you steal a steak from a Buff carcass) will not at all be affected. :thumbs_up: It is however a fact that the meat eaters around Shingwedzi(I was there a few days ago) are gorged. :shock:

The park also does according to the paperwork innoculate certain endangered/scarce specie i.e. Roan against these outbreaks, Buff, etc fend for themselves and they do survive with no problem. 8)

Imberbe, has there been TB that far up north. :hmz:

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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Imberbe » Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:52 pm

TB has been shown to have spread throughout the park. There is no area that has not yet been infected. The concentration is more towards the south. At a stage it was considered to but a fence across the middle of the park, to stop the spread of TB. But besides other considerations, it was abandoned due to the fact that TB had already spread up to Pafuri.
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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Malealea » Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:48 am

How do you realise that an animal is infected wirth Anthrax? I do realise when animals are sick, but I couldn´t tell if this is Anthrax or not.
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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Scipio » Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:39 pm

Foaming at the Mouth, lots of mucus(Sometimes like the SO :twisted: ), contractions similar to rabies in that the animal will die with the nose stuck in the belly. :x

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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Pjw » Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:09 pm

I think that if you see an animal you believe to infected with anthrax, you are supposed to report it to the nearest camp and a ranger is sent out to check. They then burn the carcass to prevent the spread. Vultures, as Sprocky said, seem to be unaffected, but they spread the disease via their droppings. For this reason they try to stop the vultures from feeding on infected carcasses.
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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Imberbe » Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:16 pm

Unnatural water sources, such a drinking troughs are also treated, by removing all water and disinfecting them with chemicals.
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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Bush Baptist » Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:33 pm

francoisd wrote:I will email some of the anthrax related questions to At Dekker who works in Skukuza Lab and is doing the Anthrax research in Kruger.
It might take some time to get a answer back as he is not in the office a lot - mostly just to send me an email to inform me he was in Pafuri area for two weeks and saw Racket-tailed Rollers :evil: :mrgreen:


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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by Richprins » Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:51 pm

At Dekker replied in today's local paper...

Basically the same as has already been said....but Pafuri and Vlakteplaas Ranger's Sections mostly affected! :thumbs_up:

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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by francoisd » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:48 am

This took a little longer than I expected but due to the nature of At's work he is not in the office a lot but at least he listened when I told him to get back to the office and clear his inbox so that I can send him a message :P

I received two batches of info from him, the first being a couple of paragraphs on the anthrax situation in 2010 and the second lot of info is general info on anthrax in Kruger. This is the info At gave to a local newspaper, and Richprins referred too. I received it in Afrikaans and did my best in translating it.

Everything from this point forward, including the images is from At Dekker, unless stated otherwise

Anthrax Kruger National Park 2010

The first deaths were reported in June in the area of Shirombe Pan, from were it spread south and west (following the existing water). At this stage it is mostly buffalo bulls that have been affected due to the source of infection (the water supply.) Kudus, Njala, 1 elephant and 1 giraffe are among the animals that have been found.

Anthrax is a natural disease in the park and must be seen as part of the ecosystem, it can be seen as bad if of the scarce species such as Roan antelope are lost and if it spreads to the neighboring communities adjacent to the Park. The outbreak is monitored on a daily basis by the State Veterinary department to determine the spread.

If visitors to the park do see any carcasses it will be appreciated if it is reported and if possible a GPS coordinate.

Anthrax being a very acute disease it will be difficult to spot an anthrax case before death.


The comments posted in the newspaper

1. Anthrax is caused by the spore forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Spore formation is the ability to change into a vegetative spore when environmental conditions change which can cause the bacterium to die off. One of the first written references to anthrax is in the Bible in Exodus 6 & 7 when reference is made to pestilence on the animals and boils on man and beast [Comment by francoisd: It actually appears in Exodus 9, I will tell At that he must go back to Sunday school :D ]

2. Because anthrax is such an acute disease one does not really see any symptoms in animals before they start to lie down and it is too late to do anything for them. Animals do however have a fever hours before death and can appear restless and agitated.

3. Infection can be caused by the bacterium or by the spore. To cause disease the spore needs to get access to the blood stream and this can happen through cuts or wounds. If infected material is ingested the bacterium or spore can also gain access to the blood stream through small wounds in the mouth, or any other area along the digestive route.

For interest sake it can be mentioned that at archeological digs in Pafuri bones that have been carbon dated to be 250 years old still contained viable spores which was isolated from the bone samples.

Another route of infection is through inhalation and this mostly occurs where the spores are in the ground or old carcasses. Spores are inhaled into the lungs where it develops and the bacterium develops exponentially which in the end causes the death of the animal.


4. The epidemiology of anthrax in Kruger is very interesting because there are various ways of transmission (also called cycles). These cycles have been observed by Dr Vossie de Vos that worked for nearly 40 years on anthrax in Kruger.

There must be an initial case of anthrax to put the whole cycle into motion and can start with a antelope that chews on an infected bone, a water hole that dries up or animals that inhales spores by grazing close to infected soil

Vultures plays an important role as they feed on infected carcasses that can contain millions of bacteria in the meat, blood and other body fluids and so the vultures ingest the anthrax organisms. It must however be stated that vulture is not susceptible to anthrax as their body temperature is too high and all the bacteria dies off over a period of time although the spores are very hardy and easily survive the trip through the vultures digestive system.

As soon as the vultures finished feeding they start looking for a place to bath because they are now covered in blood from the feeding process. Small stagnant pools are preferred and one normally find large numbers of vulture at these pools. The vultures now wash of all the blood and also defecate in the water and so the spores, and bacteria in the blood washed off, ends up in the water. The spores settle at the bottom of the pool

When animals who tend to walk into water to drink enters the pools and churns the water, the sediment containing the spores rise to the top and is ingested during drinking. Buffalo are especially infected in this manner, especially the bulls as the normally drink last after the rest of the herd drank. Water levels are then lower and well churned and the spore levels concentrated. They also tend to role in the pools and if they should have any open wounds this will serve as another point of entry

Blowflies and kudu are the next distributors of anthrax.
Blowflies will feed on an infected carcass and once full the fly will go and sit on vegetation a couple of meters away. It will settle on an altitude of about 1.5m above ground level and ingest its meal, this is done by mixing the food just gathered with sputum. To do this the blowflies excretes a droplet of the blood meal onto the leaf, mix with sputum and then suck it up again. In this way the fly also gets rid of everything he does not want to eat, he also defecates on the leave, the feaces and droplets left behind is filled with anthrax spores.

The kudu now comes along and the height they prefer to browse at, is the exact height the blowflies prefer to sit and it is needless to say that when the kudu ingest leaves with the spores on they get infected. Kudu has a thin skin and when he dies it is easy for vultures and other smaller carrion feeders to open the carcass which then gives easy access to the blowflies and not only allow the flies to feed but also lay eggs resulting in an increased blowfly population. In this way the blowfly and kudu plays a role in the increase and distribution of anthrax within an outbreak


5. All animals are susceptible to anthrax but certain species are more prone to infection because of their feeding and drinking habits as well as population density.

Anthrax statistics in Kruger shows that:
Kudu always represent more than 50% of anthrax deaths
The number of animals affected in a population is never more than 20%
The largest majority of animals that die are older animals.


6. The last outbreak was at the end of 2009 beginning 2010 at Pafuri, just north of the Levhuvu river and about 150 animals died


7. Outbreaks of anthrax in Kruger occur in intervals f between 10-20 years.

Factors that can play a role is rain fall (availability of food and water) and the most important factor is the availability of a susceptible population of host animals (population density)


8. It must be made clear that there is no possibility that any tourist can be exposed to anthrax even during an active outbreak.

Although humans are susceptible they have to come into direct contact with infected material through the handling or inhalation of spores.


Spores: The rod shaped structures are the anthrax bacteria and the round shape blood cells
Image

Typical kudu carcass that died of anthrax, note the head that is pulled back
Image

Blowfly sitting on a plant after feeding
Image

Dried blood droplet on a Mopanie leave left behind by a blowfly
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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by saraf » Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:47 am

Funnily enough there was a small article on a UK program last night, concerning anthrax and its potential use as a biological weapon. A small Scottish island was used during WWII to test the potential of anthrax. Sheep were exposed to an anthrax "bomb" and all died within 24 hours. On the film you could still see the area where the bomb exploded. The infected sheep where initially buried but when an anthrax outbreak occured on the mainland, the carcasses were burned. It is thought the outbreak came from the carcass of one of the sheep being washed across the channel, although at the time the outbreak was blamed on a passing Greek ship off-loading its infected cargo. 50 years later, tests showed that the island was still infected and measures were taken to decontaminate. The island is still uninhabited though. The testing on this particular island stopped in 1942 as the prevailing wind conditions were not conducive to continued testing. It didn't say if the tests stopped altogether or were moved to another area.
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Re: Anthrax in the Northern Areas

Unread post by gmlsmit » Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:17 pm

While in Kruger Park we found At Dekker who is a member of the State Vetrinerian staff busy doing his duties near Tshanga on 21 September, west of Shingwedzi.

He was of opinion that the Anthrax seemed to spreading into a westerly direction.

While we were driving in the road between Shingwedzi Rest Camp and Dipene we often came across the stench of carrion, more than ever before.

At reported finding the carcass of a Waterbuck that had died of Anthrax en route to Tshange on 23 September.

Anthrax although a deadly disease is part of nature, it is prevailant during the dry periods, as soon as it rains this killer goes dormant, hopefully it will rain soon, and all will be well again.
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