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Investigating an Anthrax Outbreak in Eastern Uganda, May 2021

Tackling deadly diseases in Africa (TDDA) is contributing to the health security agenda in Uganda by supporting the country to investigate and respond to threats posed by animal-to-human disease transmission.

Team members discussing with the affected community on prevention and control of anthrax

An outbreak of Anthrax among humans and cattle was identified in Kween district, Eastern Uganda, during April 2021. In one instance, six people reported sick after skinning, carrying and eating the meat of a dead cow. In the district as a whole, numerous sudden animal deaths had been reported and hundreds of people were exposed to the disease.

TDDA provided technical assistance, logistical support and funding to enable a multi-sectoral team, headed by veterinarians, to travel to the district and provide support to the local grassroots teams as they responded to the outbreak.

A cross section of farmers explain the anthrax outbreak to the visiting team

Between 2-8 May, the team visited livestock farms, took samples from sick animals, raised awareness among local farmers on how Anthrax spreads and advised them of where to report sick animals. The team also went to health centres and homes, where they met people who had contracted the disease and were now recovering.

The team’s support also extended to training the district One Health team on surveillance, active case search, biosafety and biosecurity measures, infection prevention and control, and sanitary animal carcass disposal. These are all measures that are vital to avoid recurrent infections.

Interventions such as this are important and timely, however we also need to make sustainable changes that will help control the disease for the longer term. That’s why the team also worked with the district staff to draft an Anthrax response plan. We will share this with the National One Health Platform, central ministries of agriculture and health, partners, NGOs, and community-based organizations. Once the plan is implemented, this will be a key step in mitigating the threat of Anthrax. In this way, TDDA aims to strengthen systems and avert future disastrous public health events such as this one.

Zoonotic diseases, in which a pathogen jumps from animals to humans, account for 75% of all new infectious diseases around the world. With this clear global threat in mind, TDDA supports a One Health approach to improve coordination between human, animal and environmental health sectors. Across all six of our focus countries we provide advice to strengthen National One Health Platforms and policies, and assist with co-ordination across different government ministries and agencies.


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