Report of Four Human Anthrax Cases Spread Panic in Hungary

A skin lesion caused by anthrax. Public domain

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By news desk, neucrad health India May 30, 2019

Recently there was a public scare in the Bacs-Kiskun and Bekes administrative division of south-eastern Hungary as health authorities reported four anthrax cases in these areas. In two separate incidents, citizens dealing with farm animals developed anthrax which might have entered the body while chopping infected meat. Neighbours of the affected family reported that they had slaughtered a sick cow a few days back and then developed the anthrax infection which made them visit the medical facility of the area. Health officials also administered antibiotics to 30 more individuals who were possibly exposed to the bacteria. Continue reading to know more about this deadly disease which mostly infects livestock, but can also transfer to humans on direct contact of the spores with bloodstream or through inhalation and ingestion.

What is Anthrax?

Anthrax is a deadly disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria Bacillus anthracis and mainly infects livestock. The spores are present in soil and enter the animal’s body through ingesting them while grazing.  In 2001, the spores of this highly toxic pathogen got used as a Biological weapon in the United States, when packages containing them were mailed at different sites. It led to infection in 22 individuals and 5 fatalities. This disease is common Central and Southwestern Asia, Eastern Europe, South America, and the Caribbean islands. In the United States, there were reports of anthrax among grazing animals like deer. Though it can pass on from animals to human beings by direct contact, still now there are no reported cases of human to human transmission.

How can Human Beings get Anthrax?

Human beings can develop anthrax infection when the spores enter their body. It can occur if individuals breathe anthrax spores, consume food contaminated with spores, or through a cut in the skin. Mostly human beings contact the infection while dealing with contaminated meat or skin of animals. There were reports of developing the disease in the United States while crafting traditional African drums from the hides of infected animals.

What are the different Routes of Anthrax Infection?

Primarily, there are four different routes through which anthrax spores can enter the human body. Usually, symptoms start developing after one week of exposure to pathogens. However, in the case of inhalation anthrax, symptoms can become visible after a few weeks. Detailed below are the four common routes of anthrax infection.

Cutaneous Anthrax

In this type of infection, the bacterial spores entre human body through cut or bruises in their skin. Though cutaneous anthrax is the most common route of this disease, symptoms are mildest here. Here infected individuals notice a raised itchy eruption on the epidermis which develops a black centre within a few days. The neighbouring lymph glands of the sore can become enlarged during this infection.

Gastrointestinal Anthrax

In this type of infection human beings contract the disease by consuming undercooked meat from infected animals. Common symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, headache, and sore throat.

Pulmonary Anthrax

Here anthrax develops due to inhalation of infective spores. This route of anthrax develops the most severe symptoms, and it may become fatal even after undergoing treatment. People develop flu-like symptoms with fever, sore throat, fatigue, difficulty in breathing, chest pain, coughing up blood, and muscle aches. In the advanced stage of infection, individuals experience very high fever, shock, and meningitis.

Injection Anthrax

Here people develop anthrax while using contaminated syringes from infected patients. The initial symptom is redness and swelling at the injection site. As the disease progress, patients experience shock, meningitis, and multiple organ failure.

Prevention of Anthrax

There are various ways by which you can prevent anthrax. Workers dealing with hides, fur, or wool especially of cows, sheep, and goats should be careful while dealing with them. Health officials advise people in anthrax prone area to consume meat after properly cooking them. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an anthrax vaccine for high-risk people including laboratory workers, animal handlers, and military personnel.

This was all about anthrax infection. Be cautious and implement the preventive procedures to stay away from this deadly disease.

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