What is anthrax?
Anthrax is a rare disease of animals and humans caused by a bacterium called Bacillus anthracis.
Anthrax bacteria are found naturally in the soil and can persist for many years.
Contact with anthrax can cause serious illness in both humans and animals. Anthrax is not a contagious disease, which means that it is not possible to contract it like a cold or flu.
Farm animals such as cows, sheep, and goats can become infected when they graze on the soil that is contaminated with the bacteria. Live animals infected with anthrax can not transmit the bacteria to other animals or humans.
Humans become infected by contact with the tissues of an animal that has died of anthrax.
In the US, human cases of anthrax are more commonly seen in people handling imported leathers and skins of exotic animals, or people who have contact with dead animals, such as farmers and veterinarians.
How is anthrax transmitted between animals?
Anthrax is transmitted by means of spores.
Most animals are infected while grazing in areas that have previously experienced anthrax.
After a flood, low areas can be contaminated with a high concentration of spores.
The spores are transmitted through the consumption of contaminated water or hay.
The consumption of inadequately processed foods of animal origin, such as blood meal or bone meal, has also been implicated as a cause of infection.
What is anthrax?
Anthrax or anthrax is an infection caused by a bacterium (a type of germ) called Bacillus anthracis. This bacterium makes spores, a form of the germ covered by a protective sheath.
The spores can live years on earth and they are the ones that cause the disease when they enter the body. Although it is a common disease in farm animals (such as sheep, cows, and goats), there is very little chance that a person will contract it, usually when they come in contact with an animal or a part of the animal. an animal affected by anthrax.
Anthrax is not contagious
You can not get anthrax by contact with another person in the same way you would get a cold or flu. In sporadic cases, transmission of cutaneous anthrax from person to person has been reported, when the secretions of the injured skin may be infectious.
Certain activities (described below) can increase the chances of a person contracting the disease.
How do humans contract Anthrax?
People can contract anthrax when they are exposed to their spores. (Expose means that a germ that can cause the disease is in the same place as you, for example, in the same room, where it can come into direct contact with your body.)
But here is the most important: the mere fact that A person exposing himself to these spores does not mean he has to get sick.
For a person to become ill, they must come into contact with the spores in one of the following three specific ways: inhale thousands of these spores until they reach their lungs.
Eating meat that contains spores (the meat that can spread the anthrax comes from animals that were infected with the bacteria and that have not been cooked enough); or hold something that contains spores and that they get into cuts of your skin.
As frightening as it may seem, even if someone comes into contact with the spores, it is unlikely that they will get sick because, if the bacteria do not enter their skin, digestive tract or lungs, they will not develop the disease.
Is anthrax contagious?
Anthrax is not contagious, which means it is not transmitted from one person to another in the same way as the flu, which spreads easily within a family and between classmates.
How is anthrax treated?
Anthrax is treated with antibiotics (a medicine that kills the bacteria that trigger it).
How do people get anthrax?
People become infected with anthrax when the spores enter their body. When anthrax spores enter the body, they can “activate”.
When these become active, the bacteria can multiply, spread in the body, produce toxins (poisonous substances) and cause serious illness.
This can occur when a person breathes the spores, drinks water or ingests food that is contaminated with spores, or when the spores penetrate the body through wounds or scratches on the skin.
It is very rare for people in the United States to get anthrax.
Certain activities can also increase the chances of a person contracting the disease.
How do animals contract anthrax?
Pets and wild animals, such as cattle, sheep, goats, antelopes, and deer can become infected by breathing or ingesting spores from contaminated soil, plants or water.
In areas where there are pets that have had anthrax in the past, it is possible to prevent an outbreak with routine vaccination.
Where is anthrax?
Anthrax is most commonly found in the agricultural areas of Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa, central and south-western Asia, southern Europe and Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean.
Anthrax is not common in the United States, but sporadic outbreaks occur in wild animals and grazing animals, such as cattle or deer.
The Anthrax is more common in developing countries and countries that do not have veterinary public health programs that provide vaccination against anthrax for animals in a systematic way.
In the United States, annual vaccination of livestock is recommended in areas where there have been animals with anthrax in the past.
Anthrax hyperacute form
In the hyperacute manifestation of anthrax, death can occur without warning, as the animals can rapidly develop cerebral anoxia and pulmonary edema.
Ruminants, especially cattle, sheep, and goats, are the species most commonly affected with this form of the disease.
Anthrax acute or subacute form
Fever, depression, seizures, and dyspnea are associated with acute or subacute anthrax.
Animals can bleed from the mouth, nose, and anus.
Death occurs approximately 24 hours after the first signs of the disease.
Cattle, sheep, and horses are the most commonly affected species with this form of anthrax.
Typical autopsy findings in cattle and sheep due to acute/subacute anthrax death include hemorrhage and edema anywhere in the body; splenomegaly, with an appearance of “blackberry jam”.
This signal is not seen in dying pigs. The blood is dark and does not coagulate.
How can anthrax be diagnosed in animals?
The disease is diagnosed more frequently in animals through historical evidence and a blood or fluid examination of edema by characteristic bacteria in short chains.
The blood is drawn from the jugular vein or peripheral vessels. In addition, the diagnosis is made by culture or inoculation in laboratory animals.
Bacteriological cultures of animals do not produce growth if antibiotics are administered before sampling.
A fluorescent antibody test is available to detect capsular production by anthracis B grown in a medium of 5% CO2 bicarbonate.
Because no other bacillus produces a capsule under these conditions, the sensitivity can be high when tested by a knowledgeable technician.
Types of anthrax
The three main types of anthrax are:
Cutaneous anthrax can occur when someone with a cut or scratch holds or handles contaminated animals or animal products. More than 95% of anthrax cases are cutaneous, the least dangerous form of this disease.
A person with cutaneous anthrax will notice a small sore or pupa that will turn into a painless ulcer with a black part in the center. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other areas of the body.
Intestinal anthrax can occur when someone ingests contaminated meat. Intestinal anthrax is much less frequent than cutaneous anthrax, but it can make people sick much more. Its symptoms include intense abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, severe diarrhea and digestive hemorrhages.
Pulmonary anthrax, or inhaled, is the least common type of anthrax, but it is also the most dangerous of all. It happens when someone inspires thousands of anthrax spores that end up in their lungs. Pulmonary anthrax usually begins as if it were a common cold or flu, but quickly transforms into severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization.
How is anthrax diagnosed and treated?
Medical professionals can diagnose anthrax by taking samples of skin, blood or other body fluids from people who believe they have been exposed to B. anthracis bacteria. The samples are sent to a laboratory to find out if the person presents the bacteria is their organism.
If the infection is detected early, it can almost always be treated effectively with antibiotics. If a person is known to have been exposed to the B. anthracis bacteria even if they do not have symptoms of the disease, they can be given antibiotics (after exposure) to prevent them from contracting the disease.
Although there is a vaccine against anthrax, in the USA. It is currently only recommended for those people who run the risk of coming into contact with the B. anthracis bacteria.
This group includes people who work in laboratories where this bacteria is stored, which manipulates products of animal origin that could be infected and military personnel.
The vaccine is not administered systematically to the American population and its use in people under 18 has not been studied.