From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1996:
Amid the mad cow disease panic, Britain barely
noticed the death of an 11-year-old Moslem girl from anthrax
after a two-day stay at the Poitier’s University Hospital in
London. Anthrax, a disease of known epidemic potential, hits
about 100,000 people a year. It can be treated with antibiotics, if
recognized early, but otherwise kills through the combination of
high fever, pneumonia, and internal hemorrages. Sixteen days
before falling ill, the girl helped her father kill an infected sheep
at an unlicensed slaughterhouse during the Ramadan religious
holiday. She then ate a lightly cooked piece of the liver. The rest
of her family, fasting according to the rules of Ramadan, waited
until the end of the holidays before boiling and eating the rest of
the meat. None of them became ill.
Up to 5% of the cattle in the U.S. South may carry
the bovine immunodeficiency virus, some experts estimate. A
close cousin of HIV, the so-called AIDS virus, BIV was discovered
in 1969. Known cases have clustered in Louisiana and
Mississippi, but have also been found in New Zealand, South
America, Canada, Europe (including England), and Asia.
An unidentified pig disease called “wabah babi” has
killed at least 177 natives of Brome and Ndugwa villages in the
Jayawijaya region of Irian Jaya, a part of Indonesian New
Guinea. Jayawijaya chief J.B. Wenas said the deaths all came
early this year. The Indonesian health department claims they
came over a three-year period.
Rabbit calicivirus disease continues to spread through
Australia, killing rabbits by the thousand, six months after
insects carried it to the mainland from a quarantined test site on
an island off South Australia last October. Nearby New Zealand
has increased airport security against the chance that rabbit-hating
sheep farmers might try to smuggle infected rabbits into that
country, and in February killed two endangered kiwi birds as part
of an experiment to see whether the calicivirus might jump the
species barrier and attack wildlife.
Seventeen residents of Mayibout II, a Gabon village
of about 150 people, died in mid-February from Ebola virus after
12 of them ate a chimpanzee that a pair of children claimed to
have found lying dead in the forest. Three gorillas, an antelope,
and a wild cat were reportedly found dead in the same area. The
final fatality was the six-month-old child of one of the other victims.
Seven people were afflicted but survived.
Ecuadoran authorities poisoned and/or shot 11,000
wandering dogs and cats in mid-March, after 12 people died
of rabies in an outbreak centering on the city of Guayaquil.
Ecuadoran director of health Efran Pacheco estimated that even
among owned dogs and cats, only 35% were vaccinated against
rabies, partly because the shots cost more than twice the average
resident’s monthly income––and partly, points out Ecuadoran
native Abelardo Moncayo, now at the University of
Massachusetts in Amherst, because animal control by poisoning
is as likely to kill animals who have been vaccinated as those who