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Since October, over 130 hippos and eight buffalo in Namibia’s Bwabwata National Park have died following a suspected anthrax outbreak. Officials dispatched state veterinarians to the area to confirm the presence and prevalence of the lethal bacteria, which typically afflicts game and cattle. Authorities also emphasized the immediate need for locals to steer clear of the area and avoid consuming hippo meat, a regional delicacy.

Though slow to spread, once contracted, anthrax is highly lethal unless swiftly treated with antibiotics. Caused by bacteria Bacillus anthracis, its spores often lies dormant in soil or stagnant pools for years before entering animals through cuts or wounds. Hippos are especially susceptible to infection as they spend so much time in the water.

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