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Anthrax

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

 

Anthrax

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Anthrax- causes, effects, symptoms and prevention.

 

Context: DRDO, JNU scientists develop more potent Anthrax vaccine. Claim new vaccine superior than existing ones as it can generate immune response to anthraxtoxin as well as spores.

 

About anthrax:

Anthrax is a disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a germ that lives in soil.

It affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats more often than people. People can get anthrax from contact with infected animals, wool, meat, or hides. It can cause three forms of disease in people.

 

Spread:

Anthrax does not spread directly from one infected animal or person to another; it is spread by spores. These spores can be transported by clothing or shoes.

 

Symptoms & Infection:

  • In most cases, symptoms develop within seven days of exposure to the bacteria. The one exception is inhalation anthrax, which may take weeks after exposure before symptoms appear.
  • Respiratory infection in humans initially presents with cold or flu-like symptoms for several days, followed by pneumonia and severe (and often fatal) respiratory collapse.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) infection in humans is most often caused by consuming anthrax-infected meat and is characterized by serious GI difficulty, vomiting of blood, severe diarrhea, acute inflammation of the intestinal tract, and loss of appetite.
  • Cutaneous anthrax, also known as Hide porter’s disease, is the cutaneous (on the skin) manifestation of anthrax infection in humans. It presents as a boil-like skin lesion that eventually forms an ulcer with a black center (eschar).

 

Exposure:

  • Occupational exposure to infected animals or their products (such as skin, wool, and meat) is the usual pathway of exposure for humans. Workers who are exposed to dead animals and animal products are at the highest risk, especially in countries where anthrax is more common.
  • It does not usually spread from an infected human to a noninfected human. But, if the disease is fatal to the person’s body, its mass of anthrax bacilli becomes a potential source of infection to others and special precautions should be used to prevent further contamination. Inhalational anthrax, if left untreated until obvious symptoms occur, may be fatal.
  • Anthrax can be contracted in laboratory accidents or by handling infected animals or their wool or hides.

 

Treatment:

The standard treatment for anthrax is a 60-day course of an antibiotic. Treatment is most effective when started as soon as possible.

Although some cases of anthrax respond to antibiotics, advanced inhalation anthrax may not. By the later stages of the disease, the bacteria have often produced more toxins than drugs can eliminate.

 

Use in Bioterrorism:

Anthrax has been used in biological warfare by agents and by terrorists to intentionally infect.

It was spread in US through a mail. It killed 5 people and made 22 sick.

 

Sources: down to earth.

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