MINISTER of Livestock and Fisheries Makozo Chikote says people are now scared to eat beef because of the Anthrax outbreak.

On Wednesday, Chikote had updated the House that two people had died while 223 others had developed skin sores from suspected anthrax in Sinazongwe District.

Chikote said 245 cattle had died from anthrax disease in Sinazongwe district.

Anthrax is a serious disease caused by spore-forming germs called Bacillus anthracis. The germ occurs naturally in soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals.

According to the Ministry of Health, people get infected with anthrax when germ spores from a sick animal or animal which died on its own get into the body. The germ multiply or increases in number, spreads out in the body, thereafter produces poison that causes severe illness even death.

“People can get infected with anthrax through; breathing in germ spores, eating food or drinking water contaminated with germ spores, handling products of infected animals such as cattle, hippo or game animals, people get germ spores in a cut or bruised skin, handling contaminated clothing. Please Note: Anthrax disease cannot be transmitted from person to person,” read an alert posted on the Ministry of Health Facebook page.

“People can get sick with anthrax if they come in contact with infected or sick animals or contaminated animal products. Anthrax can cause severe illness in both humans and animals. In humans, the disease mostly affects the following body parts; skin, lungs and intestine.”

The common signs and symptoms of Anthrax are fever which may be accompanied by night sweats, flu-like symptoms, cough, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, fatigue, and muscle pains, sore throat, followed by difficulty swallowing, inflamed lymph nodes, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, or diarrhoea and a sore, especially on someone’s face, arms or hands, that starts as a raised bump and develops into a painless ulcer with a black area in the centre.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Thursday, Chikote assured members of parliament that the ministry would ensure it dispatched extension officers to inspect butchery outlets by ensuring the meat they were selling was certified.

“Arising from what I stated yesterday, first of all, you must understand that this is a sector that was neglected for a long time. I’m sure even the honourable member who is surprised knows that when it comes to budget allocation, that ministry has suffered a lot. It is not your making but it’s the budget allocation. In terms of budget allocations, this is the ministry which has been suffering. So, for us to respond to all those issues being raised, we are looking at long term measures whereby we need to increase our human resources by providing extension officers, inspectors to monitor our butchery outlets. That’s one way to respond to that concern of everyone being able to sell meat in markets,” he said.

“That concern is very, very true and people now have started getting scared even to consume this meat because of the way we are managing our system. So, we are on the right track to make sure that all our outlets are managed. We also want to encourage you honourable members that we have to make sure that all our outlets selling beef have certificates that have been cleared by our experts. So, we shouldn’t go to outlets that don’t have these certificates which have been cleared by our experts. In addition to that, we are presenting a bill very soon in this House which will give us a position whereby we are trying to review some of the laws to those selling beef by having certain documents”.

He disclosed that there had been reports of an anthrax outbreak in Eastern Province which were yet to be verified by officers.

“Thank you, Madam Speaker, I think even yesterday, I had a question concerning anthrax and we assured honourable members of parliament that we are on the ground in relation to the district and we have received reports. I also assured the House that we are working as a team; Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism, to make sure that we respond to these outbreaks we are getting from these districts,” said Chikote.

“Also, I want to assure the honourable member that yes, indeed, by today we have gotten reports concerning Lumezi and we have already instructed our staff to go and verify the outbreak of anthrax. Indeed, as the government, we are going to move in as soon as we verify to vaccinate all the animals in that area”.