Anthrax

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WHAT IS ANTHRAX? Anthrax is an infectious disease and it is caused by a bacteria called “Bacillus Anthracis”. The anthrax bacteria live in the soil and can infect domestic and wild animals. This is common in farming areas like the Caribbean, Southern,    and Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central, and South America, Central and South […] Read More

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Anthrax

WHAT IS ANTHRAX? Anthrax is an infectious disease and it is caused by a bacteria called “Bacillus Anthracis”. The anthrax bacteria live in the soil and can infect domestic and wild animals. This is common in farming areas like the Caribbean, Southern,    and Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central, and South America, Central and South Western Asia.  Anthrax is more common in farm animals than humans. One is only prone to having anthrax if one works in a laboratory contaminated with the bacteria: if one works as a veterinarian, process animal products in areas that are exposed to the anthrax bacteria. Types of Anthrax Here are the types of Anthrax, which is solely based on means of human infection 
  • Cutaneous Anthrax
This is the most common type of anthrax. This type of anthrax is contacted when an individual with a skin cut has direct skin contact with Anthrax. 
  1. Gastrointestinal Anthrax
This type of anthrax is contracted by eating meat from an infected animal.  It is contracted to eat untreated or overcooked meat.
  • Inhalation Anthrax
This anthrax occurs when you breathe in anthrax bacterial spores, which are found suspended in the air in large quantities.
  • Injection Anthrax
The use of unsterilized injections for injecting illegal drugs can cause the anthrax infection. RISK FACTORS The following are at risk of contracting the disease:
  • People who work in veterinary
  • People in areas that have a high risk of exposure to the bacillus anthracis bacteria.
  • People who work with farm animals and livestock.
  • People who work in laboratories with exposure to anthrax bacteria.
COMPLICATIONS With the effect of anthrax bacteria in essential parts of the body, it can lead to many complications, such as:
  • A weak response to infection
  • Sepsis; damage of organ systems.
  • Fluid deposits in the spine and brain
  • Membrane inflammations
  • Hemorrhagic meningitis
In extreme cases, it can lead to death. DIAGNOSIS OF ANTHRAX Anthrax can be diagnosed using different types of tests. Here is some test to discover if an individual has contracted Anthrax:
  • Skin tests
  • Endoscopy 
  • Chest x-ray
  • CT scan
  • Blood tests
  • Spinal tap: This is a procedure where a little amount of the fluid is surrounding the brain and the spinal cord.
If Anthrax was found when the test is carried out, the test results will be sent to a public health department laboratory for confirmation. TREATMENT OF ANTHRAX The treatment of Anthrax varies, depending on if the individual has developed the symptoms of Anthrax or not. If an individual has not yet shown symptoms of Anthrax, he or she will be given a treatment that will help prevent it. The treatment will include antibiotics and the Anthrax vaccine. For an individual already showing the symptoms of Anthrax, the treatment that will be given is an antibiotic. The antibiotics e.g. ciprofloxacin or doxycycline will be used for about 60-100 days. There are also treatments like the experimental treatment. Experimental treatment includes antitoxin therapy. This will kill the toxins that have been caused by the bacteria – Bacillus Anthracis. This is done instead of attacking the bacteria itself. MORTALITY RATE AND SURVIVAL RATE The rate of recovery of the disease Anthrax differs by type. For cutaneous Anthrax, the mortality rate is about twenty percent. Gastrointestinal Anthrax has a 25%-75% mortality rate. The inhalation or the pulmonary Anthrax is the most dangerous with a high mortality rate of 80% and above. PREVENTION OF ANTHRAX How Anthrax can be prevented is through the Anthrax vaccine. The only vaccine by the RDA that is approved is the BioThrax vaccine. When the vaccine is used for a preventive measure, it will be used five times over 1 year and 6 months. It’s a five-dose vaccine series. If it’s being used after an individual contracts Anthrax, it will be used three times. It is a three-dose vaccine series. It should be noted that people do not have access to this vaccine. It’s is not available to the general public. The BioThrax vaccine is only available to those who are in danger or at risk of contracting Anthrax due to the nature of their jobs, e.g. Soldiers, scientists, etc.

Symptoms

SYMPTOMS OF ANTHRAX

The symptoms of Anthrax is quite dependent on the types of Anthrax. If an individual contracted anthrax through the skin – cutaneous anthrax, the individual may see symptoms like a small raised sore that is itchy and it looks like an insect bite. 

It then becomes a skin ulcer that has a black center. This won’t cause you any pain. The symptoms may take about five days to develop after exposure. 

For individuals who contract Anthrax through inhaling, the symptoms will develop in one week. Sometimes it can be as fast as two days and up to 45 days after being exposed to Anthrax. 

Symptoms include:

  • fever, 
  • sore throat, 
  • cold symptoms, 
  • having aching muscles, 
  • shortness of breath,
  • vomiting, 
  • fatigue, and 
  • Shaking chills. 

If the mode of infection is through ingestion. It may take about a week before symptoms develop. 

The symptoms include:

  • Losing interest in eating just like one does before (loss of appetite).
  • Nausea and fever.
  • Possibility of having swelling in the neck.
  • Having bloody diarrhea.

Causes

CAUSES OF ANTHRAX

Anthrax can be contracted by touching, inhaling, or ingesting anthrax bacteria spores. This means causes three types of Anthrax which were discussed above. An individual can also contract anthrax through animal or biological weapons.

Once the bacteria find a way into your body system. It increases itself in multiple folds, spread, and then produces toxins in the body.

Human beings can be infected by being exposed to animals that are already infected with anthrax. The products from animals eg, hides can also cause infection of anthrax when one is exposed to it. 

When processing animal products, an individual can inhale anthrax spores. Also, the consumption of meat from an infected animal that is not well cooked.

FAQ

Is it possible to contract Anthrax from someone who is infected?

The anthrax disease can not be transmitted from one person to another. There are three means an individual can contract anthrax. 

The first is having direct skin contact with anthrax when one has a cut. The second means is eating the meat of an infected animal, while the third is breathing in anthrax spores.

Could it be that I have anthrax?

You can not be so sure. Only those who have been exposed to anthrax spores can contract it. If you still think there’s a possibility you have it, you can visit a doctor.

Can I take antibiotics, if I think I have anthrax?

As earlier explained, you may need to go to a doctor or a medical practitioner to be diagnosed if you have anthrax. Do not take any antibiotics with medical advice or prior prescription.

Can I survive anthrax?

Yes, you can. However, once you are diagnosed, you need to be treated immediately especially by the type of anthrax you have. 

Inhalation anthrax is considered the deadliest. But with rigorous treatment, about 55% of patients with this type have been recorded to survive.

Where are the different locations where anthrax can occur?

The locations that can be affected by anthrax include; skin, gastrointestinal tract (throat and lungs), stomach, and intestines.