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Anthrax in Togo: Spatial Risk in the Savannah Region
During the dry season in northern Togo, herds are led in search of water sources and natural pasture. These areas are often unfamiliar to the herdsmen and can also pose health risks to the herd. Additionally, migrating animals can spread diseases to other herds. The Savannah Region, in northern of Togo, has experienced recurrent anthrax outbreaks between 2007-2009. In this context, a study was undertaken from June-October 2009 regarding the spatial risk of anthrax in the Savannah Region of northern Togo. The principal objective was to identify the location of anthrax outbreaks in relation to the corridors along which animal movements occur, providing guidance about which areas should be avoided for grazing. The methodological approach was based on interviews of 147 people across 5 categories: 25 veterinarians from the public and private sectors, 84 livestock owners and herdsmen, 24 abattoirs, 3 transhumant herdsman originated from other countries, and 11 representatives of the human health sector. Data collection involved interviews using a pre-designed questionnaire. The results showed that: of the 35 animal outbreak sites of 1997-2008 identified during the interviews, 80% were first detected in the hot, humid period from March-June. Furthermore, 91% of the 35 outbreaks sites of 1997-2008 were situated along the actual transhumant corridors used by herdsmen, which differ from the officially designated corridors and are generally poorly marked out. Consequently, it is possible that livestock movements are a factor in the spread of anthrax and that there is a real and important risk posed by grazing contaminated pasture. The identified outbreak sites should be forbidden for grazing within the context of the regional anthrax control program.