Anthrax Epizootic in Hippopotami and Cape Buffalo and Associated Human Exposures – Namibia, 2017
- From September to December of 2017, more than 200 hippos and Cape buffalo died from anthrax in Namibia, raising concern that people and livestock living nearby could be at risk of becoming infected.
- Even though more than 800 people were exposed to anthrax, there have been no human or livestock cases or deaths associated with anthrax. This success was largely due to the quick dissemination of antibiotics to people who had been exposed, guidance about avoiding contact with contaminated animals, and a coordinated campaign to vaccinate over 10,000 livestock in the affected area.
- This was the first successful use of a rapid diagnostic test for anthrax in wildlife in the field. This supports this test having strong potential for future use in other low-resource, anthrax endemic settings to quickly assess whether animals have died from anthrax.
“We worked closely with human health, animal health, and environmental health partners related to management of the outbreak. Anthrax could have spread from the infected hippos and Cape buffalo and caused illnesses and deaths in people and domestic animals, living nearby however, despite the many wildlife deaths, there were no human or livestock cases associated with this outbreak. This has highlighted how rapid public health response and proactive measures like antibiotics for exposed people, communicating with the public, and vaccinating livestock can stop a potential outbreak in its tracks,”
-Caitlin Cossaboom, PhD, DVM, MPH, EIS Class of 2017
Caitlin Cossaboom, PhD, DVM, MPH, EIS Class of 2017, collects a nasal swab of a Cape buffalo during an anthrax outbreak investigation in Namibia, 2017.
Caitlin Cossaboom, PhD, DVM, MPH, EIS Class of 2017, processes samples collected from a Cape buffalo during an anthrax outbreak investigation in Namibia, 2017.
CDC Media Relations
Caitlin Cossaboom, PhD, DVM, MPH, EIS Class of 2017
CDC’s National Center for Emerging Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology
Education: DVM: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Present; PhD: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2015; MPH: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2014; BS: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2010; BS: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2010
Work Experience: Graduate Research Assistant, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, VA, 2010-2015