Three women in the remote Southern Highlands province in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have died after eating contaminated pork.
Another 200 people were treated with antibiotics, after having complained of fever.
The deaths coincide with the deaths of approximately 1,000 pigs from an outbreak of an as yet unidentified disease. The pigs are reported to develop swollen necks, flu-like signs, fever and the antemortem decay of body parts resulting in death within days.
Other animal species were reported to have died after developing similar symptoms and authorities fear the rivers and creeks are contaminated by dead animals.
Experts from the area are suggesting that anthrax may be the cause of the pig deaths – it is unclear if the human mortalities are coincidental or connected with the pig mortalities.
Only affecting pigs
According to experts, anthrax is endemic in the pig population in the region. However, usually this strain of anthrax should affects only pigs and not people or other livestock.
In addition, locals regularly eat undercooked pork from pigs that have died from anthrax without any apparent adverse effects.
For the latest news, subscribe here