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Poachers Contribute to Zoonotic Disease Outbreaks – Here’s why you should be concerned

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Whenever there is an outbreak of a new infectious disease, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic, we are quick to identify the animal or species that hosted the virus.  However, we pay little attention to the role people who deal in illegal wildlife products play in causing the “species jump” and spreading Zoonotic diseases.

Poachers illegally hunt in national parks, game management areas and private game farms. As a result, they are always fearful of being spotted by someone or being caught by village scouts or wildlife police officers. This means they have to do their business in a hurry, ignoring safety measures. Tracking, capturing, handling, sometimes basic field butchering, and transporting of the carcass involves contact with potentially infected meat. Butchering (opening, cutting, dressing, and preparing the carcass) is obviously high risk for bloodborne pathogens.

Poachers are the first contact of wildlife associated zoonotic diseases, as they mostly butcher the animals in the most inhumane manner, exposing themselves to infectious agents”, says Dr. Jackson Katampi, who is Senior Veterinary Officer at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife – DNPW. “Once they return to their communities, they become carriers and might transmit the pathogens to susceptible individuals”, he adds.

According to Dr. Katampi, there is an increased risk of spreading infectious diseases when illegal wildlife products like bushmeat exchange hands, from poachers to sellers and finally to consumers.  “Poachers sell wildlife products that have not undergone any inspection by veterinarians. This significantly increases the risk of them distributing infections.” We must therefore recognize that people who handle illegal wildlife products, that is poachers, traffickers and local sellers, are as dangerous to public health as their illegal products.

Apart from Covid-19, which has devastated global health systems and economies, Dr. Katampi identifies two local zoonotic disease outbreaks that are linked to improper handling of wildlife. “There are human anthrax cases that result from consumption of wildlife products, like hippo meat in the Eastern Province. Another example is rabies in the Kafue ecosystem, which is coming from domestic dogs being used illegally to hunt in the Kafue national park.”

His caution to members of the public is threefold, “Avoid buying bushmeat or any wildlife products from illegal or unverified sources, only buy from sources approved by DNPW and report any suspicious trade in wildlife related products.”

About 60% of all known human infectious diseases are zoonotic and transfer from host animals to humans through direct contact with wildlife or through consumption of infected wildlife products like bushmeat. Without the human factor, often poachers and illegal bushmeat traders, many zoonotic disease outbreaks in humans are preventable.

International

Zambian student dies fighting in Ukraine War

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A ZAMBIAN man fighting alongside Russian soldiers against Ukraine has died, becoming the country’s first confirmed casualty in the war, Hon. Stanley K. Kakubo, Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation has revealed in Lusaka, Monday, 14 Nov.2022.

In April 2020, Mr Nyirenda contravened the laws of the Russian Federation and as such, he was convicted and sentenced to nine years and six months imprisonment.

However, it has been established that while serving his prison term,  Mr Nyirenda was allegedly recruited to fight in Ukraine.

Mr Kakubo said Mr Nyirenda’s remains have been transported to the Russian border town of Rostov in readiness for repatriation to Zambia.

He said deceased was a government sponsored student, who was pursuing nuclear engineering at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute in the Russian Federation.

“The Ministry is saddened to inform the nation that, on 9th November, 2022, it was notified of the demise of Mr Nyirenda, at the battlefront of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Through the embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Moscow, the Ministry immediately proceeded to verify this information where it was established that Mr Nyirenda indeed passed away on 22nd September, 2022, in Ukraine.

The Embassy further established that Mr Nyirenda’s remains have since been transported to the Russian border town of Rostov in readiness for repatriation to Zambia, ” he said.

The Minister said in April 2020, Mr Nyirenda contravened the laws of the Russian Federation and as such, was subsequently convicted and sentenced to nine years and six months imprisonment.

He said Mr Nyirenda was serving his sentence at Tyer Medium security prison on the outskirts of Moscow.

“In view of this very sad development, the Zambian government has requested the Russian authorities to urgently provide information on the circumstances under which a Zambian citizen, serving a prison sentence in Moscow, could have been recruited to fight in Ukraine and subsequently lose his life,” he said.

Mr Kakubo said his Ministry is deeply saddened by the untimely demise of Mr Nyirenda under such circumstances and commiserates with the family on their loss.

“As Minister, i have been personally in touch, and will maintain contact, with the family of the deceased in order to provide an update on more details surrounding their loved one’s death, once official communication is received from the Russian authorities,” he said.

(Mwebantu, Monday, 14th November, 2022)

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A Zambian woman convicted of trafficking in cocaine dies in Ethiopian jail

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A FORTY-SIX -YEAR -OLD old Zambian woman who was recently sentenced to five years imprisonment in Ethiopia for trafficking in narcotic drugs has died.

Embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Ethiopia, Charge d’ Affaires, Trevor Sichombo, confirmed that  Penelope Munge of Itawa in Ndola died on Sunday, 24th July 2022 after suffering from a partial stroke.

He said Ms Munge was admitted to Addis Ababa Burn Emergency Trauma Hospital in the first week of July but was later discharged and readmitted to Kality Prison clinic.

“However se later succumbed to the stroke on Sunday,” he said.

Mr Sichombo said the family of Ms Munge has since been informed of her untimely death.

He further said the family of the late Ms Munge is in Ethiopia and making efforts to repatriate her remains back to Zambia.

Ms Munge was sentenced to five years imprisonment on 21st June 2022 for being in possession of 2.2 kilograms of cocaine, which was implanted in her body.

In her mitigation, Ms Munge had pleaded for leniency, saying she was a first offender and was responsible for taking care of her children because she was a divorcee.

She stated that she had a chronic illness (Hypertension) that needed consistent medical attention.

But in passing judgment, the Ethiopian High Court observed that cases of drug trafficking had become common and were posing a danger to society hence the need to impose custodial sentences on offenders to deter others from committing the crime.

This is according to a statement issued by issued First Secretary for Press and Tourism at the Zambian Embassy Inutu Mupango Mwanza.

(Mwebantu, Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022)

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Zambian student arrested in Russia on ‘Nazism’ charges for twerking at war memorial

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A female student has been arrested in Russia for allegedly “rehabilitating Nazism” by twerking in front of a war memorial.

The 21-year-old — identified by local media as Zambian national Rebecca Ziba — was detained after she posted a video of herself on Instagram.

In the footage — posted alongside a joking caption — she can be seen dancing next to a World War II memorial in Khanty-Mansiysk.

Russian investigators have described her actions as “obscene” and “insulting” and have charged her under Part 4 of Art. 354.1 of the Criminal Code, which accuses a person of “rehabilitating nazism”.

The regional Investigative Committee said in a statement that the video of Ziba dancing had been posted on social media “accompanied by an offensive inscription”.

The student faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 3 million roubles (€34,430) if found guilty of “desecrating a symbol of Russian military glory”.

The Memorial of Glory in Khanty-Mansiysk is dedicated to soldiers who died during the “Great Patriotic War” against Nazi Germany.

The Russian Investigative Committee also published a video of Rebecca Ziba sitting in what appears to be an interrogation room, where she confesses and apologises for her actions.

(Source: Euronews)

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ZAMBIA: COVID-19 STATS

30 Nov 2022, 10:24 AM (GMT)

Zambia Stats

333,746 Total Cases
4,019 Deaths
329,690 Recovered

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