Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Anthrax Confirmed in Dead Hippos in the Okavango River

Security Messages and Warnings

The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens to avoid all contact with dead animals, particularly hippopotamuses (hippos) found floating in or on land near the Okavango River. Botswana’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism has confirmed anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) as the cause of death of hippos found floating in the Okavango River from Namibia to Botswana, and has advised the public not to touch or eat meat from these dead animals. The government is also requesting the public report any sighting of dead animals in the water or on land to the nearest Department of Wildlife and National Parks office, police station, Kgotla, or veterinary office.

You should be mindful of what you eat and handle, as well as the souvenirs you bring home.

To avoid becoming sick you should not:

  • have direct contact with livestock, sick animals, and carcasses;
  • skin, cut, prepare, handle or eat hippo meat or by-products;
  • eat meat from animals that were sick when slaughtered;
  • eat raw or undercooked meat;
  • handle items made from parts or by-products from sick animals, including hides.

For more information about anthrax, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at To obtain CDC travel notices, call the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) from within the United States, or 1-404-639-3534 from overseas, or visit the CDC website at

For further information:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Botswana.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone, located at Embassy Drive, Government Enclave, Gaborone at (+267-395-3982), 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 to 1:30 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is 267-395-7111.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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