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Anthrax kills nearly 20 hippos in Uganda, outbreak feared
KAMPALA (AFP) Jan 30, 2005
Anthrax has killed nearly 20 hippos in a sprawling reserve in southwest Uganda in the past two weeks amid fears of a new outbreak of the deadly disease, which claimed at least 200 of the animals last year, an official said Sunday.

The carcasses of 18 hippos have been found floating at different locations in the Kazinga Channel in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is home to half of the east Africa nation's about 10,000 hippopotami, said Nicholas Kauta, chairman of the Ugandan government's anthrax taskforce.

"The conditions that favour an (anthrax) epidemic are there now," he told AFP. "The weather is dry like the other time and this worries me that it may precipitate the other crisis."

Anthrax occurs when animals eat remnants of vegetation in the driest months of September and October, absorbing bacterial spores that can live for decades in dry soil.

Kauta said stool samples had been taken for testing to confirm an outbreak.

Anthrax swept through the Kazinga Channel between July and December last year killing more than 200 hippos.

Kauta said local authorities had embarked on a campaign to warn villagers not to scavenge the carcasses as is their practice to prevent the disease from possibly leaping to humans.

More than 10,000 flamingos died in a park in northern Tanzania in June and July, also from an unknown disease.

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