A number of people in Sagaing Division’s Chaung-U Township have developed symptoms of infection after coming into contact with the carcasses of cattle that have died in recent weeks from an unidentified disease, according to local officials.
Kyaw Khine, the administrator of the village of Thonebanhla, said that seven people who touched the dead cows were receiving medical treatment after they came down with skin rashes and blistering lesions.
“So far, seven people have come down with rashes after they touched the cattle that died from the disease,” he said, adding that most of the affected cattle had not been vaccinated.
He said that eight cows had died of the disease between 18 August and 3 September. He added that several people had eaten the meat of the dead cattle, but so far, none have shown signs of infection. Health officials are now performing medical tests on residents who ate the meat, he said.
The head of Thonebanhla’s village medical centre said the symptoms did not seem to be serious.
“The blisters are not big, they’re just small ones. It’s not that bad,” she said.
Sagaing Division’s Department of Public Health is preparing lab tests to identify the disease.
Meanwhile, cattle in the nearby town of Budalin have also been dying from a disease tentatively identified by the local Veterinary Department as a strain of anthrax.
According to local health officials, eight people who ate the meat of the dead cows have been hospitalised after showing signs of illness. A least one man has since died, although it was unclear if his death was related to his consumption of the meat.
In 2009, a reported outbreak of anthrax in Kachin State claimed the lives of “several herds of cattle” owned by people living outside of the state capital Myitkyina. No human deaths were reported.