A bacterium known as Bacillus anthracis causes the acute infectious disease known as Anthrax. The disease has the most instances in goats, antelopes, sheep, cattle, camels, antelopes, and other herbivores. Such lower vertebrates can be wild or domestic. There have been incidents of humans contracting Anthrax from exposure to infectious animal tissue or direct contact with animals.
Because it mostly impacts lower vertebrate herbivores such as cattle, the disease is most prevalent in agricultural areas. Anthrax can therefore be found in Central America, South America, Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, the Middle East, and, the Caribbean. There have been some cases of Anthrax found in livestock in America, as well.
Anthrax is transmitted in three different ways: through the skin, through inhalation, and by gastrointetstinal means. The spores of the B. anthrais have a lifespan of several years and can prosper in soil. People in contact with infected animals, animal products, or in close proximity to such spores can become infected with Anthrax by any of the three means mentioned.
The symptoms of Anthrax vary according to how the disease was contracted and become noticeable approximately a week after an initial infection. For cases of Anthrax that are contracted through the skin, referred to as cutaneous, leads to skin infections that are bumpy and itchy. Skin infections may have the appearance of insect bites but within two days or so, the infection will develop into a vesicle, and eventually become an ulcer approximately 2 cm in diameter. The ulcer will be painless and have a darkly colored center in which the skin is dying. Other symptoms include swelling of the lymph glands.
Without treatment, approximately 20% of cutaneous Anthrax cases will lead to death. Inhalation Anthrax is much more fatal than cutaneous Anthrax, and more often than not will result in death. At first, inhalation Anthrax will have the symptoms of a common cold, but such symptoms will worsen over a period of a few days, causing severe difficulty with breathing. Shock is another symptom of inhalation Anthrax.
Intestinal Anthrax usually results from the consumption of contaminated animal products. Patients will experience an inflamed intestinal tract along with vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, and loss of appetite. Severe diarrhea and finding blood in stool or vomit may occur. Unfortunately, up to 60% of intestinal Anthrax concludes in death of the patient.
Anthrax cannot spread from person to person. The best ways to prevent Anthrax infection is to be cautious of coming in contact with livestock and any animal products. Avoid consuming raw meat or undercooked meat. There is a vaccine available against Anthrax for humans which does not use bacteria. The vaccine is approximately 93% effective and is recommended for people working with Anthrax related scientific experiments as well as people who work with animals in close and constant proximity. Military personnel may also benefit from Anthrax vaccination in the event of biological warfare.
You need a total of six injections to complete the immunization process. The first three injections are administered two weeks apart while the latter three are administered at the following markers: 6 months, then, 12 months, then finally at 18 months. Afterwards, doctors recommend booster injections once every year. For more questions concerning the Anthrax vaccine, consult your medical professional.
Approximately 30% of people who have been immunized against Anthrax report mild side effects such as swelling, tenderness, and redness. Diagnosis of Anthrax requires the isolation of B. anthracis from respiratory secretions, blood, or skin lesions. Another method is to measure antibodies in the blood.
Effective treatment of Anthrax requires a prescription of antibiotics, but this is especially reliant on how early diagnosis is made. Without treatment, Anthrax is deadly.