Anthrax is a bacterial condition brought about by Bacillus anthracis. The condition usually affects grazing animals in various parts of the globe, including livestock. Remember that it is a rare condition among humans.
What are the indications?
- Cutaneous anthrax – dark-colored, painless sores develop within 3-10 days after being exposed which are linked with swelling of the surrounding tissue.
- Intestinal anthrax – there is abdominal pain along with fever between 3-7 days after exposure and usually death follows.
- Anthrax by inhalation – there are flu-like symptoms initially. After several days, it leads to severe difficulty in breathing and shock.
How does it spread?
- In most cases, the bacteria enter via a broken skin or wound. It can also be ingested from poorly cooked meat from infected animals or inhaled.
- The anthrax bacteria can remain in the soil for several years as spores. These spores are the usual cause of infection among grazing animals. Nevertheless, a large concentration of spores is required for an infection to occur among humans.
- Take note that anthrax could not be transmitted from one individual to another.
- Those who handle materials that are potentially contaminated with anthrax must wear gloves, rubber boots and overalls. Any breaks in the skin must be protected with sealed waterproof dressings.
- Contaminated items and clothing must be stored in double plastic bags that are properly labelled until the condition is ruled out. If the condition is confirmed, these items should be incinerated or sterilized at 121 degrees C for 30 minutes.
- Careful hand washing and bathing with soap is vital in protecting the body against infection.
When it comes to the cutaneous type, it is diagnosed based on the appearance of the ulcer. The best way to confirm the disorder involves testing of the blood, skin lesions or respiratory secretions.
Various antibiotics including doxycycline, penicillin and ciprofloxacin can be used to managed anthrax infections.