Rabies strikes Namibian kudu

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2006:

WINDHOEK–Veterin-arians Otto Zapke and
Beate Voights in mid-May 2006 reportedly
confirmed that a rare outbreak of rabies
spreading from herbivore to herbivore during the
past two years was responsible for the deaths of
“thousands” of kudu in the Omaruru region of
“Sources in the industry have voiced
concern that the outbreak could impact negatively
on the hunting season,” reported Chrispin
Inambao of the Windhoek New Era. “People come to
Namibia because of kudus,” Inambao said a
hunting industry source told him. About 5,000
hunters per year visit Namibia.

“Namibia Professional Hunting Association sources
revealed the contagion was initially detected at
a farm in the Wilhelmstal area before it spread
north, east, and scattered south. Cases have
been reported at Omitara. From there it spread
toward Botswana,” Inambao added. “Some farms
around Windhoek have also reported cases of kudu
frothing at the mouth and not being afraid of
There is a precedent for a rabies
outbreak among Namibia kudu. Recalled three
moderators of the International Society of
Infect-ious Diseases’ ProMed electronic bulletin
board, in a joint posting, “A unique outbreak
of rabies in kudu began in central Namibia in
1977, apparently involving oral spread of
infection between individuals. It peaked in 1980
and eventually subsided in 1985, by which time
it had caused an estimated loss of 30,000 to
50,000 antelope, or 20% of the population.”
But the report drew skepticism from
rabies expert Henry Wilde, M.D., of the Queen
Saov-abha Memorial Hospital in Bang-kok,
Thailand. “Herbivore to herbivore transmission
would be unlikely,” Wilde told ANIMAL PEOPLE,
explaining that the Namibian climate would
quickly kill any live rabies virus in dripping
saliva from the victim animals.
“The most likely explanation is that
there is another epidemic disease that causes
most of the kudu deaths, and/or that a small
undetected biting mammal is the vector for the
kudu rabies cases,” Wilde said.
A team of British, Namibian, and South
African researchers headed by Karen Mansfield of
the World Health Organization reported in January
2006 that “37 rabies virus isolatesÅ originating
mainly from the northern and central regions of
Namibia between 1980 and 2003Å  suggest that
jackal and kudu may form part of the same
epidemiological cycle of rabies,” with the
predators apparently doing the actual disease
Hunting publications mentioned the rabies
outbreak among kudu, but business was still
brisk at a wildlife auction held on June 1 by the
Namibian Ministry of Environ-ment and Tourism.
About 30 game farmers and hunting ranch owners
bid on 40 buffalo, 22 roan antelope, 30 impala,
eight black rhinos, 11 sable antelope and 21
giraffes, said Frederick Philander of the New

Locals hunt seals

While visitors hunt mainly so-called
trophy species, Nambians will be hunting seals.
The 2006 Nambian sealing season, to start in
July, has quotas of 60,000 baby fur seals, who
will mostly be clubbed, and 7,000 bulls, who
will be shot.

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