Original Research

A retrospective study of anthrax on the Ghaap Plateau, Northern Cape province of South Africa, with special reference to the 2007–2008 outbreaks

Ayesha Hassim, Edgar H. Dekker, Charles Byaruhanga, Tommy Reardon, Henriette van Heerden
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 84, No 1 | a1414 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v84i1.1414 | © 2017 Ayesha Hassim, Edgar H. Dekker, Charles Byaruhanga, Tommy Reardon, Henriette van Heerden | This work is licensed under CC Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0
Submitted: 31 December 2016 | Published: 28 September 2017

About the author(s)

Ayesha Hassim, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Edgar H. Dekker, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa
Charles Byaruhanga, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Tommy Reardon, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa
Henriette van Heerden, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by the gram-positive, endospore-forming and soil-borne bacterium Bacillus anthracis. When in spore form, the organism can survive in dormancy in the environment for decades. It is a controlled disease of livestock and wild ungulates in South Africa. In South Africa, the two enzootic regions are the Kruger National Park and the Ghaap Plateau in the Northern Cape province. Farms on the Plateau span thousands of hectares comprising of wildlife – livestock mixed use farming. In 2007–2008, anthrax outbreaks in the province led to government officials intervening to aid farmers with control measures aimed at preventing further losses. Because of the ability of the organism to persist in the environment for prolonged periods, an environmental risk or isolation survey was carried out in 2012 to determine the efficacy of control measures employed during the 2007–2008, anthrax outbreaks. No B. anthracis could be isolated from the old carcass sites, even when bone fragments from the carcasses were still clearly evident. This is an indication that the control measures and protocols were apparently successful in stemming the continuity of spore deposits at previously positive carcass sites.

Keywords

Miltsiekte; Anthrax; Disease ecology; Soil born pathogen

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