We suspect an anthrax outbreak, but our veterinary team is still to confirm that, ' deputy director of the park Apollinaris Kannyinga told the Namibian.
Anthrax is a bacterial disease which is associated with arid climates and known for killing big game, cattle, and sometimes humans.
Pohamba Shifeta, Namibia's minister of environment, told AFP that there were concerns that crocodiles may have eaten some of the hippo casrcasses, which could spread the disease further.
It largely survives as spores that hide away in soil for years before entering an animal through a cut or wound. The hippos were found dead through the span of seven days, with the initial 10 deaths being accounted for October 1.
Elephants and hippos were also killed by a 2003-4 outbreak in Namibia's Kasika Conservancy, Sikopo said, but this is the first incident in the 2,422 sq. mi. He went to explain that outbreaks like this "mainly occurs when the level of the river is so low".
Anthrax outbreaks are fairly common among animals, even large mammals. A past flare-up in Uganda in 2004 remaining no less than 180 hippos dead, while a year ago more than 2,300 reindeer died in the wake of being tainted with Bacillus anthracis amid a heatwave in Siberia. Bwabwata, one of the country's top tourist attractions.
Anthrax can also be found in pools of stagnant water that form during heat waves and dry seasons.
Currently Namibian officials are focusing on preventing human exposure to the virus, by restricting contact with the dead hippos and suggesting locals not to eat them.
"We strongly advise that [humans] must not consume this meat".
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