Two people have died of anthrax in Orissa's tribal dominated Koraput district, while five have contracted the deadly disease in the last two days, health officials said Friday.
Bisu Sisa, 45, of Phulba village and Nanda Jani, 35, of Padiguda village under Semliguda block in Koraput, nearly 500 km from Bhubaneswar, fell to the disease reportedly after consuming cattle meat.
K.H. Reddy, chief district medical officer (CDMO) of Koraput headquarters hospital confirmed the deaths and the anthrax infection.
"The two were brought dead. Those who have contracted the infection are undergoing treatment in hospital and their condition is said to be stable," Reddy said.
The state government has sent a team of doctors to the two villages to treat villagers and create awareness among them about the disease.
"The team will camp in the villages to monitor the situation. They have also destroyed cattle meat preserved in some houses there," the official said.
"As a precautionary measure, another health task force has been deployed in these villages to prevent further infection," he added.
Villagers however alleged that no veterinary staff were present for the vaccination of animals.
Orissa has reported cases of anthrax infection in the past too, specially from Kalahandi, Koraput and Rayagada where tribals often consume infected meat.
Over 200 cattle and five people lost their lives to anthrax between 1994 and 2006. In 1998, as many as 43 cattle died in Niali area of Cuttack district due to the deadly disease.
"Though 18 of the 30 districts in Orissa have been identified as endemic to the deadly anthrax, the state government is yet to launch an Anthrax Control Programme (ACP)," Parshuram Pradhan, a human right activist, told IANS.