Editorial-Forecasting the anthrax outbreak dynamics in Zambia

  • Brian Chanda Chiluba University of Zambia, School of Health Sciences
Keywords: Anthrax, Bacillus anthracis, zoonotic disease, outbreak, Zambia, SIR-model


Anthrax, a highly infectious disease with deep historical roots believed to have originated in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, continues to pose a significant public health and agricultural threat in Zambia. This zoonotic disease, primarily affecting herbivores, including domestic livestock and wildlife, also affects humans, with three primary forms: cutaneous, gastrointestinal, and inhalation anthrax. Zambia has experienced recurring anthrax outbreaks, especially in rural or agricultural areas, where transmission occurs through activities such as handling infected animal carcasses and consuming contaminated meat. To address this ongoing challenge, the Zambian government has implemented measures like surveillance, livestock vaccination, proper carcass disposal, and public awareness campaigns. The recurrence of anthrax outbreaks in Zambia is influenced by seasonal variations and interactions between Bacillus anthracis, grazing hosts, and the transmission of anthrax through necrophagous flies. An understanding of the environmental dynamics of anthrax, including spore persistence and soil interactions, is crucial for effective management. In recent months, Zambia has faced another anthrax outbreak in the Western Province, affecting both human and animal populations. Health authorities have urged livestock vaccination and advised against consuming potentially contaminated meat. Proactive measures, including mass vaccination campaigns and movement restrictions for cattle, are being employed to control this larger-scale outbreak. Mathematical models like the SIR-model can provide valuable tools for forecasting and understanding anthrax outbreaks. Projections for various Zambian provinces suggest varying outbreak patterns, highlighting the importance of tailored intervention strategies. Anthrax outbreaks in Zambia are a multifaceted challenge that requires comprehensive efforts in disease control, surveillance, and public awareness.