Number of cases of anthrax in Bangladesh rises to nearly 600 in a month
According to Bangladesh’s Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) the total number of cases of cutaneous anthrax has reached 589 since the first case appeared in Sirajganj on August 18.
In the past 24 hours alone, the IEDCR has reported 4 new cases in the Meherpur and Narayangonj districts.
Since the anthrax cases have occurred in 12 of the 64 districts in the country, the Bangladeshi government had announced a red alert in the country as is trying to coordinate anthrax prevention and treatment in all 64 districts.
Anthrax is caused by the bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. This spore forming bacteria can survive in the environment for years because of its ability to resist heat, cold, drying, etc. this is usually the infectious stage of anthrax.
Anthrax is a pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Some of the more common herbivores are cattle, sheep, goats, horses, camels and deers.
It infects humans primarily through occupational or incidental exposure with infected animals or their skins.
What is cutaneous anthrax?
This form of anthrax disease occurs when the spore (or possibly the bacterium) enters a cut or abrasion on the skin. It starts out as a raised bump that looks like an insect bite. It then develops into a blackened lesion called an eschar that may form a scab. Lymph glands in the area may swell plus edema may be present. This form of anthrax responds well to antibiotics. If untreated, deaths can occur if the infection goes systemic. 95% of cases of anthrax are cutaneous.
Other forms of anthrax include inhalation and gastrointestinal.
Diagnosis of anthrax is made on culture of the bacteria (see picture). There are also molecular and serological methods available. Chest X-ray can also help in the diagnosis of inhalation anthrax.
Anthrax can be treated with antibiotics with varying rates of success based on how quickly treatment starts and the type of anthrax. Ciprofloxacin, doxycycline and penicillin are antibiotics for the treatment of anthrax in adults and children.