South African health authorities have set up a task team to investigate the outbreak of anthrax that has left 15 animals dead in the famous Kruger National Park (KNP) in the past few weeks .
The KNP spokesman Raymond Travers said on Monday that the team would decide on the course of action based on the evidence that they collect. The management of the park, KNP, is South Africa biggest tourist attraction, which is roughly the size of Israel, has meanwhile assured the public that there is no need for any panic.
The KNP executive director Bandile Mkhize South African National Parks (SANParks) said in a statement to a news agencies, that they would like to assure the public as it is only a minor outbreak of this disease and at this stage, there is no major cause for concern as similar outbreaks have occurred in the past without spreading further. He explained that the carcasses of kudu, nyala, buffalo and giraffe that were found in the extreme northern area of the park had all contained traces of anthrax.
Explaining that anthrax is a deadly viral disease, which occurs naturally in Africa and affects cloven-hoofed animals, Travers said that the task team would include the heads of conservation services of the park and the veterinary services, as well as representatives from the Department of Agriculture.
He explained that an option that was open to them would be to burning the block affected so as to destroy the disease and ensure it did not spread. He further stated that there was very little chance of human infection as the area was far too remote with no tourist facilities nearby. He also said that people would have to eat the raw meat of an infected carcass to contract the disease.
Explaining that by eating the anthrax covered leaves of trees or bushes had infected animals, mainly browsers, the officials also said that sometimes vultures transferred the anthrax to bushes they landed on after flying away from the infected carcasses on which they had fed.
SANParks said the far north of the KNP was historically known as an endemic anthrax area and a few sporadic cases were seen annually. The authorities stated that large outbreaks, had been recorded in the area in during the years of 1959/1960, 1970/71 and 1990/ 91, where in about 100 and 300 animals died.