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Health Alert – U.S. Embassy, Lusaka, Zambia:  Cholera and Anthrax Outbreaks (December 4, 2023)
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December 4, 2023

Health Alert – U.S. Embassy, Lusaka, Zambia:  Cholera and Anthrax Outbreaks

Location:  Zambia, countrywide

The U.S. Embassy is currently tracking reports of newly suspected and confirmed cases of cholera and anthrax in Zambia.  This follows two separate outbreaks of cholera earlier in the calendar year and endemic / continuous outbreaks of anthrax in animals with spill-over to humans.  Persons involved in the slaughter and processing of domesticated herd animals are likely at highest risk for anthrax.

CHOLERA:  The Zambia National Public Health Institute reported an outbreak of cholera in Lusaka in October 2023.  Since then, over 800 suspected cases of cholera have been documented in Lusaka, Luangwa and Chongwe districts of Lusaka Province.  Cholera is primarily caused by contact with contaminated water and simple steps can reduce the likelihood of contracting the disease.

Symptoms of cholera include:

  • profuse watery diarrhea, sometimes described as “rice-water stools”
  • vomiting
  • thirst
  • leg cramps
  • restlessness or irritability

Actions to take for cholera:

  • Use and drink safe water
  • Wash hands often with soap and safe water
  • Avoid open defecation or areas where this occurs; use toilets
  • For food items, boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it
  • Clean food preparation areas and dishes thoroughly
  • Seek prompt medical attention if ill

ANTHRAX:  To date, more than two dozen anthrax confirmed cases have been reported from Eastern, Western, Southern, Central, and Lusaka Provinces. Anthrax is not contagious from infected persons, and most cases are cutaneous anthrax, which is very treatable with prompt medical attention.

Symptoms of cutaneous anthrax include:

  • A group of small blisters or bumps that may itch
  • A painless skin sore (ulcer) with a black center that appears after the small blisters or bumps
    • Most often the sore will be on the face, neck, arms, or hand
  • Swelling around a sore

Actions to take for anthrax:

  • Avoid contact with animals who have died of anthrax and their meat, hide, and products made from those animal parts (e.g., animal hide drums)
  • Avoid eating meat from animals that were sick when slaughtered; do not eat raw or undercooked meat
  • Seek prompt medical attention if ill

For more information visit:

https://www.cdc.gov/anthrax/index.html
https://www.cdc.gov/cholera/index.html

Assistance:

U.S. Embassy Lusaka

Phone:
+(260) 211-357-000
+(260) 966-050-123
+(260) 761-107-000
Email:  ACSLusaka@state.gov

State Department – Consular Affairs +1-888-407-4747 or +1-202-501-4444
Zambia Country Information 
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