Objectives: To determine factors associated with human anthrax.
Design: Unmatched restrospective case control.
Setting: General community of Chikupo and Ngandu villages of the Nyamutumbu area of Murewa district in Mashonaland East Province of Zimbabwe.
Subjects: 19 persons were identified using the clinical anthrax definition developed by the Centre for Diseases Control as cases, and 57 persons who reported not having taken antibiotics for anthrax were identified as controls. Both cases and controls had never been out of the village during the time of the epidemic.
Main outcome measures: Percent of cases and controls handling, eating and drinking products of an alleged infected animal.
Results: Out of 19 cases of anthrax, five died, giving a case fatality rate of 26% (95% CI 5 to 47%). The following factors were significantly associated with the disease: skinning and cutting meat of an animal alleged to have shown symptoms of anthrax (OR 29, 95% CI 3 to 707, p < 0.001), eating contaminated meat (OR 20, 95% CI 2 to 470, p < 0.001), belonging to a religious sect which does not restrict its followers from eating meat from a carcass (OR 6, 95% CI 1 to 21, p = 0.003), handling contaminated meat in the process of selling it (OR 5, 95% CI 1 to 31, p = 0.033) and attending a gathering (OR 4, 95% CI 1 to 21, p = 0.028).
Conclusions: Anthrax still remains endemic in Zimbabwe despite the public health and veterinary efforts to control the disease. Having knowledge of risk factors may help one to minimize chances of contracting anthrax.