What is Anthrax?

So you have heard about Anthrax in Zambia, the outbreak of this disease is so shocking because no one expected it. However, Southen province of Zambia seems to be the currect affected region of the country. Anthrax do not usually cause complications but when it happens, death occurs within days.

Anthrax is a rare but dangerous disease caused by bacteria called Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax is a disease known to attack animals hoever, humans can get infected too. People who are into keeping animals are at higher risk of getting sick from anthrax. The disease is found in goats, sheeps, cattle, horses and other wild animals.

What are signs and symptoms of anthrax?

Anthrax symptoms develop withing a period of 6 days from exposure to the bacteria. 

Anthrax infect different parts of the body including Skin, Lungs, and the Gastro-intestinal system (mouth, stomach and intestines)

Symptoms therefore depends on the infected system.

anthrax outbreak in Zambia
Image Credit: ResearchGate. Skin lesion by Anthrax

Here are symptoms of anthrax in general:

  • Itchy and raised bump on the skin, it can be big or small and looks like an insect-bite
  • Flu like symptoms. Cough, fever, sneezing and headache
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Difficult breathing
  • Diarrhea can occur when disease has stayed longer in your Gastrointestinal system.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat.

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How do people get anthrax disease?

Spores enter the body and cause anthrax infection in humans. The spores may become activated and develop into anthrax bacteria as a result. Subsequently, the bacteria can proliferate, disperse throughout the body, generate toxins, or poisons, and result in serious disease.

Anthrax is spread by:

  • Inhaling particulates,
  • Eating or drinking spore-contaminated food or water, or
  • Getting spores on a skin wound or scrape.
Most of the world's soil contains naturally occurring anthrax bacteria, which are the source of anthrax spores. Before the spores enter a host, they can lie dormant for years. Sheep, cattle, horses, goats, and other domestic or wild animals are common hosts of anthrax.

Anthrax Spores = A particle or something with a hard material outside containing anthrax bacteria inside. It's like groundnut  having a hard coat covering the nut inside.

Which medicine is used to prevent anthrax in Zambia ?

In those who have been exposed to anthrax but have not yet shown symptoms, antibiotics can stop the disease from spreading. Antibiotics function in two basic ways: 

Either they eradicate the anthrax 


They prevent it from proliferating growing/multipliying in your body. The anthrax dies when it is unable to proliferate. 

The following are two antibiotics that might be used to stop anthrax:

  • Ciprofloxacin: Adults take 500mg orally twice a day for 3 days 
  • Doxycycline: Taken 1 tablet twice a day for 7 days. you can also repeat the course after a  2 weeks or a week if you are a person at higher risk (found with animals) 

Do this to prevent Anthrax in Zambia

The centres for diseases control and  preventtion (CDC) reccommends the following to prevent anthrax:

  • Taking antibiotics for 60 days.  The approved drugs include Ciprofloxacin, Doxycycline, or Levofloxacine.
  • Anthrax vaccine. Three doses of anthrax vaccine is give to prevent the disease.
  • Avoid infected animals. Infected animals are the source of Anthrax infection and can be passed to humans. Avoiding animals will prevent you from getting the disease. Do not eat meats anyhow especially those that did not pass through public health inspections. 

What’s the treatment of anthrax?

Treatment of anhtrax uses antibiotics including Doxycycline, Ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin. The treatment duration depends on the severity of the disease. Some  patients may go for longer courses than other.

Antrax is curable and treatment is effective.


The symptoms and ways to prevent anthrax are among the important key knowledge to have for all people in Zambia. Do not move to places that are at higher risk of Anthrax or you may need to take very strict measures. Government through public health specialists is doing the best to prevent the disease in collaboration with the veterinary personnel. Anthtrax in Zambia is being controled and people are encauraged to remain coutious with the meat bought from different sources.

Please share this "Anthrax in Zambia" information to your family and friends, God bless you. 

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