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Anthrax in Livestock and how it is transmittable to Humans

Anonymous Coward
User ID: 381219
United States
02/29/2008 06:46 AM
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Anthrax in Livestock and how it is transmittable to Humans
There are serious concern about diseases being transmitted to humans through livestock lately. Especially in the lastest case of the beef that was recalled(being supplied to schools...)in the US.
There has also been a problem with a mysterious illness befalling meat proccessors in plants in the US that have been handling pigs(speciffically the ones that handle the extrusion of pig brains), wherein they have inhaled tissue that has been emitted into the air in a mist from their proccessing methods.

Now the latest problem with Heparin being contaminated (from China), which just co-incidentally is made from Pig intestines, and comes on the heels of an epidemic of a Hemorrhagic pig disease. They have not confirmed conclusively the disease which is causing this yet.
Below I have put 2 links on just what Anthrax
is(and other info on livestock contamination and transmission), followed by links to info on countries experiencing this disease from livestock.

This leaves many questions in my mind about our livestock and the possible transmission of disease to humans from meat(and medicine), as well as the regulations(and lack of, therein)being implemented by the agencies involved in approving food for human consumption, medicines and innoculations manufactured from these animals;(!

[link to www2.dpi.qld.gov.au]

Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by the sporeforming bacterium Bacillus anthracis . Anthrax is most common in wild and domestic herbivores (eg, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes) but can also be seen in humans exposed to tissue from infected animals, contaminated animal products or directly to B anthracis spores under certain conditions. Depending on the route of infection, host factors, and potentially strain-specific factors, anthrax can have several different clinical presentations. In herbivores, anthrax commonly presents as an acute septicemia with a high fatality rate, often accompanied by hemorrhagic lymphadenitis; in dogs, humans, horses, and pigs, it is usually less acute. B anthracis spores can remain infective in soil for many years. During this time, they are a potential source of infection for grazing livestock, but generally do not represent a direct infection risk for humans. Grazing animals may become infected when they ingest sufficient quantities of these spores from the soil. In addition to direct transmission, biting flies may mechanically transmit B anthracis spores from one animal to another. The relative importance of this mode of transmission during epizootics or epidemics has yet to be quantified but is frequently suspected. Feed contaminated with bone or other meal from infected animals can serve as a source of infection for livestock, as can hay that is heavily contaminated with infected soil. Raw or poorly cooked contaminated meat is a source of infection for carnivores and omnivores; anthrax resulting from contaminated meat consumption has been reported in pigs, dogs, cats, mink, wild carnivores, and humans.
Underdiagnosis and unreliable reporting make it difficult to estimate the true incidence of anthrax worldwide. However, anthrax has been reported from nearly every continent and is most common in agricultural regions with neutral or alkaline, calcareous soils. In these regions, anthrax periodically emerges as epizootics among susceptible domestic and wild animals. These epizootics are usually associated with drought, flooding, or soil disturbance, and many years may pass between outbreaks. During interepidemic periods, sporadic cases may help maintain soil contamination.
Human cases may follow contact with contaminated animals or animal products. The risk of human disease in these settings is comparatively small in developed countries, partly because humans are relatively resistant to infection and less likely to be exposed to virulent spores. However, in Africa each affected cow can result in up to 10 human cases for a variety of cultural, economic, and epidemiologic reasons. In cases of natural transmission, humans exhibit primarily cutaneous disease (>95% of all cases). GI anthrax (including pharyngeal anthrax) may be seen among human populations following consumption of contaminated raw or undercooked meat. Under certain artificial conditions (eg, laboratories, animal hair processing facilities, exposure to weaponized spore products), humans may develop a highly fatal form of disease known as inhalational anthrax or woolsorter’s disease. Inhalational anthrax is an acute hemorrhagic lymphadenitis of the mediastinal lymph nodes, often accompanied by hemorrhagic pleural effusions, severe septicemia, meningitis, and a high mortality rate. Inhalational anthrax among humans has not been reported following exposure to contaminated soil or infected animals.
In the USA, anthrax has been reported among domestic and wild animals nearly every year since records have been available. The precise incidence of anthrax among animals in the USA is unknown. Over the past hundred years, animal infections have occurred in nearly all states, with highest frequency from the Midwest and West. Presently, anthrax is enzootic in west Texas and northwest Minnesota; sporadic in south Texas, Nevada, eastern North and South Dakota; and only occasionally seen elsewhere. The annual incidence of human anthrax in the USA has declined from ~130 cases annually in the beginning of the last century to 1 case in 2002.
In addition to causing naturally occurring anthrax, B anthracis has been manufactured as a biologic warfare agent. B anthracis was used successfully as a weapon of terrorism in 2001, killing 5 people and causing disease in 22. Probably due to the method of delivery (via mail), no known animal disease resulted from this attack. Historically, B anthracis was selected for production as a weapon because of its respiratory route of infection, the high mortality of inhalational anthrax, and the greater stability of B anthracis spores compared with other potential biologic warfare agents. Weaponized spores represent a threat to both human and animal populations. The World Health Organization has estimated that 50 kg of B anthracis released upwind of a population center of 500,000 could result in 95,000 deaths and 125,000 hospitalizations. The effect on animal populations has not been estimated, but because livestock are more susceptible to B anthracis infection than primates, the outcome of an attack with B anthracis spores against livestock would result in higher and earlier mortality and morbidity rates than among a human population. Thus, livestock could serve as sentinels for a bioterrorism event.

B anthracis spores have a high affinity for macrophages. After wound inoculation, ingestion, or inhalation, spores infect macrophages, germinate, and proliferate. In cutaneous and GI infection, proliferation can occur at the site of infection and the lymph nodes draining the site of infection. Lethal toxin and edema toxin are produced by B anthracis and respectively cause local necrosis and extensive edema, which is a frequent characteristic of the disease. As the bacteria multiply in the lymph nodes, toxemia progresses and bacteremia may ensue. With the increase in toxin production, the potential for disseminated tissue destruction and organ failure increases. After vegetative bacilli are discharged from an animal following death (by carcass bloating, scavengers, or postmortem examination), the oxygen content of air induces sporulation. Spores are relatively resistant to extremes of temperature, chemical disinfection, and dessication. Necropsy is discouraged because of the potential for vegetative cells to be exposed to air, resulting in large numbers of spores being produced. Because of the rapid pH change following death and decomposition, vegetative cells in an unopened carcass quickly die without sporulating.

Clinical Findings:
Typically, the incubation period is 3-7 days (range 1−14 days). The clinical course ranges from peracute to chronic. The peracute form (common in cattle and sheep) is characterized by sudden onset and a rapidly fatal course. Staggering, dyspnea, trembling, collapse, a few convulsive movements, and death may occur in cattle, sheep, or goats with only a brief evidence of illness.
In acute anthrax of cattle and sheep, there is an abrupt fever and a period of excitement followed by depression, stupor, respiratory or cardiac distress, staggering, convulsions, and death. Often, the course of disease is so rapid that illness is not observed and animals are found dead. The body temperature may reach 107°F (41.5°C), rumination ceases, milk production is materially reduced, and pregnant animals may abort. There may be bloody discharges from the natural body openings. Some (chronic?) infections are characterized by localized, subcutaneous, edematous swelling that can be quite extensive. Areas most frequently involved are the ventral neck, thorax, and shoulders.
The disease in horses may be acute. Signs may include fever, chills, severe colic, anorexia, depression, weakness, bloody diarrhea, and swellings of the neck, sternum, lower abdomen, and external genitalia. Death usually occurs within 2-3 days of onset.
Although relatively resistant, pigs may develop an acute septicemia following ingestion of B anthracis , characterized by sudden death, oropharyngitis, or more usually a mild chronic form. Oropharyngeal anthrax is characterized by rapidly progressive swelling of the throat, which may cause death by suffocation. In the chronic form, pigs show systemic signs of illness and gradually recover with treatment. Some later show evidence of anthrax infection in the cervical lymph nodes and tonsils when slaughtered (as apparently healthy animals). Intestinal involvement is seldom recognized and has nonspecific clinical characteristics of anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), or constipation.

Pharyngeal anthrax, dog

In dogs, cats, and wild carnivores, the disease resembles that seen in pigs. In wild herbivorous animals, the expected course of illness and lesions varies by species but resembles, for the most part, anthrax in cattle.
Lesions: Rigor mortis is frequently absent or incomplete. Dark blood may ooze from the mouth, nostrils, and anus with marked bloating and rapid body decomposition. If the carcass is inadvertently opened, septicemic lesions are seen. The blood is dark and thickened and fails to clot readily. Hemorrhages of various sizes are common on the serosal surfaces of the abdomen and thorax as well as on the epicardium and endocardium. Edematous, red-tinged effusions commonly are present under the serosa of various organs, between skeletal muscle groups, and in the subcutis. Hemorrhages frequently occur along the GI tract mucosa, and ulcers, particularly over Peyer’s patches, may be present. An enlarged, dark red or black, soft, semifluid spleen is common. The liver, kidneys, and lymph nodes usually are congested and enlarged. Meningitis may be found if the skull is opened.
In pigs with chronic anthrax, the lesions usually are restricted to the tonsils, cervical lymph nodes, and surrounding tissues. The lymphatic tissues of the area are enlarged and are a mottled salmon to brick-red color on cut surface. Diphtheritic membranes or ulcers may be present over the surface of the tonsils. The area around involved lymphatic tissues generally is gelatinous and edematous. A chronic intestinal form involving the mesenteric lymph nodes is also recognized.

A diagnosis based on clinical signs alone is difficult. Confirmatory laboratory examination should be attempted if anthrax is suspected. Because the vegetative cell is not robust and will not survive 3 days in transit, the optimal sample is a cotton swab dipped in the blood and allowed to dry. This results in sporulation and the death of other bacteria and contaminants. Because pigs with localized disease are rarely bacteremic, a small piece of affected lymphatic tissue that has been collected aseptically should be submitted. Before submission, the receiving reference laboratory should be contacted regarding appropriate specimen labelling, handling, and shipping procedures.
Specific diagnostic tests include bacterial culture, PCR tests, and fluorescent antibody stains to demonstrate the agent in blood films or tissues. Western blot and ELISA tests for antibody detection are available in some reference laboratories. Lacking other tests, fixed blood smears stained with Loeffler’s or MacFadean stains can be used and the capsule visualized; however, it can result in some 20% false positives.

Bacillus anthracis, ground glass colonies

Bacillus anthracis, medusa head morphology

Bacillus anthracis, methylene blue stain

In livestock, anthrax must be differentiated from other conditions that cause sudden death. In cattle and sheep, clostridial infections, bloat, and lightning strike may be confused with anthrax. Also, acute leptospirosis, bacillary hemoglobinuria, anaplasmosis, and acute poisonings by bracken fern, sweet clover, and lead must be considered in cattle. In horses, acute infectious anemia, purpura, colic, lead poisoning, lightning strike, and sunstroke may resemble anthrax. In pigs, acute classical swine fever, African swine fever, and pharyngeal malignant edema are diagnostic considerations. In dogs, acute systemic infections and pharyngeal swellings due to other causes must be considered.

Treatment, Control, and Prevention:
Anthrax is controlled through vaccination programs, rapid detection and reporting, quarantine, treatment of asymptomatic animals (postexposure prophylaxis), and burning or burial of suspect and confirmed cases. In livestock, anthrax can be controlled largely by annual vaccination of all grazing animals in the endemic area and by implementation of control measures during epizootics. The nonencapsulated Sterne-strain vaccine is used almost universally for livestock immunization. Vaccination should be done 2-4 wk before the season when outbreaks may be expected. Because this is a live vaccine, antibiotics should not be administered within 1 wk of vaccination. Before vaccination of dairy cattle during an outbreak, all of the procedures required by local laws should be reviewed and followed. Human anthrax vaccines currently licensed and used in the USA and Europe are based on filtrates of artificially cultivated B anthracis .
Early treatment and vigorous implementation of a preventive program are essential to reducing losses among livestock. Livestock at risk should be immediately treated with a long-acting antibiotic to stop all potential incubating infections. This is followed by vaccination ~7-10 days after antibiotic treatment. Any animals becoming sick after initial treatment and/or vaccination should be retreated immediately and revaccinated a month later. Simultaneous use of antibiotics and vaccine is inappropriate, as the Sterne vaccine is live. Animals should be moved to another pasture away from where the bodies had lain and any possible soil contamination. Suspected contaminated feed should be immediately removed. Domestic livestock respond well to penicillin if treated in the early stages of the disease. Oxytetracycline given daily in divided doses also is effective. Other antibacterials, including amoxicillin, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, erythromycin, gentamicin, streptomycin, and sulfonamides also can be used, but their effectiveness in comparison with penicillin and the tetracyclines has not been evaluated under field conditions.
In addition to therapy and immunization, specific control procedures are necessary to contain the disease and prevent its spread. These include the following: 1) notification of the appropriate regulatory officials; 2) rigid enforcement of quarantine (after vaccination, 2 wk before movement off the farm, 6 wk if going to slaughter); 3) prompt disposal of dead animals, manure, bedding, or other contaminated material by cremation (preferable) or deep burial; 4) isolation of sick animals and removal of well animals from the contaminated areas; 5) cleaning and disinfection of stables, pens, milking barns, and equipment used on livestock; 6) use of insect repellents; 7) control of scavengers that feed on animals dead from the disease; and 8) observation of general sanitary procedures by people who handle diseased animals, both for their own safety and to prevent spread of the disease. Contaminated soils are very difficult to completely decontaminate, but formaldehyde will be successful if the level is not excessive. The process generally requires removal of soil.
Human infection is controlled through reducing infection in livestock, veterinary supervision of animal production and slaughter to reduce human contact with potentially infected livestock or animal products, and in some settings either pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis. Trade restrictions of hides and wool from countries known to have anthrax reduce the risk to the public. In countries where anthrax is common and vaccination coverage in livestock is low, humans should avoid contact with livestock and animal products that were not inspected before and after slaughter. In general, consumption of meat from animals that have exhibited sudden death, meat obtained via emergency slaughter, and meat of uncertain origin should be avoided. Routine vaccination against anthrax is indicated for individuals engaged in work involving large quantities or concentrations of B anthracis cultures or activities with a high potential for aerosol production. Laboratory workers using standard Biosafety Level 2 practices in the routine processing of clinical samples are not at increased risk of exposure to B anthracis spores. The risk for workers who come into contact with imported animal hides, furs, bone meal, wool, animal hair, or bristles has been reduced by improvements in industry standards and import restrictions. Routine pre-exposure vaccination is recommended for people in this group only when these standards and restrictions are insufficient to prevent exposure to anthrax spores. Routine vaccination of veterinarians in the USA is not recommended due to the low incidence of animal cases. However, vaccination may be indicated for veterinarians and other high-risk persons handling potentially infected animals in areas where there is a high incidence of anthrax cases.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that those at risk of repeated exposure to B anthracis spores in response to a bioterrorism attack should be vaccinated. Those groups include some emergency first responders, federal responders, and laboratory workers. Because recommendations regarding pre-exposure vaccination should be based on some sense of a calculable risk assessment, and because the target population for a bioterrorist release of B anthracis and the risk of exposure cannot be predetermined, vaccination in anticipation of a terrorist attack is not recommended for other populations.
For humans, post-exposure prophylaxis against B anthracis is recommended following an aerosol exposure to B anthracis spores. Such exposure may occur following a laboratory accident or a terrorist incident. Prophylaxis may consist of antibiotic therapy alone or the combination of antibiotic therapy and vaccination, if vaccine is available, as most human vaccines are not live. Though there is no approved regimen, the CDC has suggested that antibiotics may be discontinued after 3 doses of vaccine have been administered according to the standard schedule (0, 2, and 4 wk). Because of availability and ease of dosing, doxycycline or ciprofloxacin may be chosen initially for antibiotic chemoprophylaxis until the susceptibility of the infecting organism is determined. Penicillin and doxycycline are approved by the FDA for the treatment of human anthrax, and have traditionally been considered the drugs of choice. Both ciprofloxacin and ofloxacin have demonstrated in vitro activity against B anthracis . Although naturally occurring B anthracis resistance to penicillin is infrequent, it is reported; resistance to other antibiotics has been noted. Antibiotics are effective against the germinated form of B anthracis , but are not effective against the spore form of the organism. Spores may survive in the mediastinal lymph nodes in the lung for months without germination in nonhuman primates. There are currently no approved vaccination regimens for postexposure prophylaxis following B anthracis exposures. Although postexposure chemoprophylaxis using antibiotics alone has been shown to be effective in animal models, the definitive length of treatment remains unclear. Antibiotic chemoprophylaxis may be switched to penicillin VK or amoxicillin in children or pregnant women once antibiotic susceptibilities are known and the organism is found to be susceptible to penicillin. The safety and efficacy of anthrax vaccine in children or pregnant women has not been studied; therefore, a recommendation for the use of vaccine in these groups cannot be made. Although the shortened vaccine regimen has been shown to be effective when used in a postexposure regimen that includes antibiotics, the duration of protection from vaccination is not known. The existing evidence suggests that vaccine protection is adequate for 12 mo. If subsequent exposures occur, additional vaccinations may be required.
There is little published science to guide the postexposure prophylaxis recommendations following cutaneous or GI exposures of humans to B anthracis . However, based on the slow progression of disease, low fatality rate, and ease of antibiotic treatment of cutaneous anthrax, and the general low risk of cutaneous disease following natural exposure, postexposure prophylaxis is not recommended following direct cutaneous exposure to contaminated animals or animal products. However, immediate washing of the exposed areas is advised. Those exposed should be advised of the signs of cutaneous anthrax (ie, an inflamed but painless area with or without circumferential small vesicles, enlargement of the regional lymph nodes) and should seek medical assistance if illness develops. Because of the high fatality rate and rapid progression of GI anthrax, serious consideration should be given to initiating postexposure antibiotic prophylaxis for those who consume contaminated undercooked or raw meat. There is no current indication for vaccination following either cutaneous exposure or ingestion, because there is no evidence of longterm survival of B anthracis spores in these forms of anthrax.

[link to www2.dpi.qld.gov.au]

Anthrax in livestock

Anthrax in livestock
Staff of DPI&F and Queensland Health Department

Cause of anthrax
Anthrax is caused by bacteria called Bacillus anthracis. When exposed to oxygen in the environment, the bacteria form very resistant spores that can remain viable for at least 50 years when buried in the soil. Spores that remain on the surface are inactivated by the elements over several years; experience suggests at least 3 years is required for inactivation of spores on the soil surface. When an animal eats viable spores, the spores germinate and reproduce rapidly in side the animal. The resulting bacteria produce toxins that cause deterioration and death. When these bacteria are exposed to oxygen, spores form and the cycle can be repeated. Anthrax is primarily a disease of herbivores eg cattle, sheep and goats, but the disease may also affect other species of domestic and wild animals, and people.

Clinical signs in animals
Cattle, sheep and goats infected with anthrax generally die quickly. In the per-acute form of the disease death usually occurs within 1 to 2 hours and sick animals are rarely seen. Most animals are simply found dead. In the acute form, the disease course may last for up to 48 hours. If signs are seen during this phase, they may include weakness, staggering, a fever and laboured breathing. Milking cows may stop producing milk, and their milk and urine may be stained with blood. In an outbreak one or two animals may die initially, followed by many other deaths several days later. Prompt action will avoid further losses.

Pigs and rarely dogs may be affected by anthrax, but death is less sudden; therefore sick animals may be seen. They may be drowsy and have a characteristic large swelling of the throat. This swelling interferes with breathing and can choke the animal to death. Horses can also be affected and can show doughy swellings under the throat, chest, and abdomen or on the legs but can also show signs of colic and diarrhoea.

Wildlife are reported as being relatively resistant to anthrax.

How do animals become infected?
Grazing livestock and other animals can ingest the spores from contaminated pasture or soil, from eating carcases of animals that have died of anthrax, or through contact with the excretions from infected carcases. Inhalation of spores in the natural environment is not considered a significant cause of infection in animals and is extremely rare in humans, as there are not enough spores present in dust in most environmental situations to cause infection through inhalation.

This is an important point in light of recent world events in which anthrax has been used as a bioterrorism agent. In these situations, the bacteria have been carefully produced under laboratory conditions and then made into a special form that can be used to cause infection through inhalation.

Other animals and humans usually acquire natural infection by eating the meat from infected animals or animals that have just died from anthrax. Humans can also acquire infection through handling animal hides - see section on human infection following.

Method of spread in animals
Anthrax is not spread from an infected animal directly to another animal. Anthrax infection is maintained through formation of resistant spores and then ingestion of these spores as outlined above. Any activities that may spread or disturb these spores from carcass sites or old burial sites can result in exposure of more animals to these spores. An animal may incubate the disease for up to 20 days (usually 4-10) after exposure, so there is potential for the disease to be carried via animal movements from an infected property to other properties. If the animal then becomes sick and dies, anthrax spores can be formed on the new property and expose other animals. For this reason, properties identified with anthrax are quarantined to prevent animals moving off the property and taking anthrax with them. Wildlife and feral animals do not appear to be a significant cause of spread on or between properties.

What else contributes to anthrax infection?
Cases of anthrax in livestock often occur after a major climate change such as heavy rain after a prolonged drought. Cases of anthrax in livestock can sometimes also be related to soil disturbance eg cultivation, irrigation works, deep digging. It is assumed that this disturbance brings viable spores to the surface and stock become infected if they are exposed to them.

There are parts of New South Wales and Victoria where anthrax has occurred on a regular basis. This area is referred to as the "anthrax belt". Producers in these areas are aware of anthrax and manage the risk of the disease through vaccination of stock.

Anthrax is a rare event in Queensland. When detected here the principles of anthrax management - early identification of the disease, notification and rapid response - are used to put in place an appropriate management program.

Treatment and vaccination
The sudden nature of the disease in cattle, sheep and goats means treatment is rarely possible. However, if sick animals are identified they may show a dramatic response to high doses of penicillin administered under veterinary supervision.

Vaccination is very effective in preventing further disease from occurring in animals on a property experiencing an outbreak. Full immunity takes 10 to 14 days to develop. Antibiotics must not be used at the same time as vaccines are given, since they interfere with the development of immunity.

Disposal of carcases and decontamination
Effective carcass disposal is necessary to prevent anthrax spores from contaminating a property and causing ongoing infection. Anthrax bacteria react with oxygen and develop into the anthrax spores that can survive for many years, contaminating the area. Organisms inside an unopened carcass are destroyed when a carcass decomposes. Formation of spores needs exposure to oxygen and is minimised by not opening or skinning a suspect anthrax carcass.

Carcases infected with anthrax should be burnt wherever possible. Any soil close to the carcass that was not heated by the fire should then be soaked with a dilute (5%) formaldehyde solution to kill any spores on the surface of the ground

If burning is not practical, other alternatives can be considered.

Carcasses can be left intact to decompose on top of the ground, with fencing to prevent scavengers pulling the carcass apart. A week after the animal dies, the soil around the carcass should be sprayed with formaldehyde solution to kill any spores present in the soil.

Deep burial (ie under at least 2 metres of soil) is not considered a satisfactory option, as the spores that are buried with the carcass can remain viable for up to 50 years. If the soil was subsequently disturbed, and spores transported to the surface they may cause infection long after the burial happened. If an infected animal was buried, the burial sites must be permanently marked to prevent future excavation of the sites.

Contact your local DPI&F Office for advice on disposal and decontamination.

When to suspect anthrax
Be suspicious if animals die suddenly, especially if they have a blood stained or tarry discharge from the nose, mouth or anus that continues to ooze after the animal dies (see picture below). The blood of animals that die from anthrax often does not clot. Bleeding may also occur from areas where predators have attacked the carcass such as the eyes and skin. Bloody discharges will not always occur, but when seen, they are one of the signs of possible anthrax infection. Apart from these signs, there are no other characteristic signs.

Anthrax is diagnosed in the laboratory from blood smears that are examined under a microscope (similar to procedures used to diagnose tick fever in cattle at present). A diagnosis can also be made by growing the organism from samples of blood or fluid collected from the carcass. The sudden death and rapid decomposition of animals that die of anthrax can make these laboratory techniques difficult to apply. New soil tests are showing promise in diagnosing anthrax in extensive grazing situations where partially decomposed carcasses are found.

Anthrax in people
There are three different forms of anthrax recognised in people, according to how the infection was acquired.

The skin form of the disease (cutaneous anthrax) is the most common worldwide and is acquired through contact of broken skin with anthrax spores. This can be acquired from infected live animals or from contaminated animal carcasses or from other animal products, such as wool.
The inhalation form of anthrax is acquired through inhaling a significant number of anthrax spores.
The gastrointestinal form is acquired through the ingestion of insufficiently cooked meat that has been contaminated with anthrax spores.

In Australia, only the skin form of anthrax in people has ever been recorded. This form responds well to treatment, and is the mildest form of the disease. However, severe disease can occur if treatment is not given.

The most common way people get cutaneous anthrax in Australia is by handling carcasses, skins or wool of animals that have died from anthrax. Infection usually begins as a localised skin sore at the site of cuts and abrasions on the hands and arms, where contact with an infected animal or its products has allowed spores to enter through the skin. The sore begins 2 to 3 days after contact as a pimple that is usually itchy. It rapidly becomes a small, boil-like blister with clear fluid that later becomes blood stained. In 2 to 6 days the sore grows in size and develops a central black swollen scab with swelling. Sometimes more blisters surround it. The infection may cause a severe generalised illness, if untreated.

If anthrax is suspected or you are at all concerned then you should seek medical attention immediately. This can be from your local GP, who can contact the local Public Health Unit or an infectious diseases physician for advice.

Personal protective equipment should be worn when handling carcasses of animals that are suspected to have died of anthrax including overalls (preferably disposable), gloves, facemask and goggles. Consult DPI&F if possible before handling such carcasses.

Anthrax continues to cause deaths in people in developing countries around the world, largely as a result of people eating the carcasses of animals that have died from anthrax. In Australia strict meat inspection and food hygiene practices plus the practice of only slaughtering healthy animals prevent animals with anthrax from entering the food chain. Suspect carcasses should not be cut up for pet meat or used as poison baits because this is one way that people and other animals may become exposed to the organism, perpetuating a problem on a property.

Inhalation of anthrax spores in agricultural situations is considered extremely unlikely to cause human illness. Illness from this form of exposure has never been reported in Australia.

If I suspect anthrax, who do I contact?
Should you suspect that an animal may have died from anthrax, contact the local DPI&F office, DPI&F Call Centre 13 25 23 or a Veterinary Surgeon immediately. It is preferable to have a false alarm than to allow deaths to go unreported, thereby placing both present and future generations of stock, their owners and their industries at risk.

If you are at all concerned about your health or the health of others you should contact your local GP or a Public Health Unit of Queensland Health immediately.

Last updated 22 June 2007

[link to www.promedmail.org]

26-FEB-2008 / Anthrax, ovine - Mongolia: (Selenge)
10-FEB-2008 / Anthrax, human, livestock - India (03): (AP, Orissa)
06-FEB-2008 / Anthrax, human, livestock - India (02): (AP, Orissa), conf.
06-FEB-2008 / Anthrax, bovine - India: (West Bengal)
04-FEB-2008 / Anthrax, human, livestock - India: (AP, Orissa) susp.

06-FEB-07 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, human, bovine - Australia (VIC) (02)
05-FEB-07 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, human, bovine - Australia (VIC)
11-JAN-07 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, livestock - Zimbabwe (Mashonaland East, Masvingo)
20-DEC-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, human, bovine - Zimbabwe (Mashonaland East)
17-DEC-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, human - Kyrgyzstan (Jalal-Abad) (03): susp
11-DEC-06 / PRO/AH> Anthrax, livestock, wildlife - Namibia (Caprivi) (03)
10-DEC-06 / PRO/AH> Anthrax, bovine - India (Tamil Nadu)(04)
09-DEC-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, bovine - India (Tamil Nadu)(03)
07-DEC-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, bovine - Zimbabwe (Mashonaland East)
29-NOV-06 / PRO/AH> Anthrax, human - USA (FL): building disinfected
22-NOV-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, human - UK (Scotland) (04)
22-NOV-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, human, bovine - Armenia (Gegharkunik)
22-NOV-06 / PRO/AH> Anthrax, bovine - Chechnya (North)
13-NOV-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, livestock, wildlife - Namibia (Caprivi)(02)
09-NOV-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, human - Russia (N. Ossetia-Alania)
06-NOV-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, livestock - Australia (NSW)(02)
06-NOV-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, bovine - India (Tamil Nadu)(02)
05-NOV-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, livestock - Australia (NSW)
02-NOV-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, beef - Russia ex Ukraine: susp.
24-OCT-06 / PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, bovine - India (Tamil Nadu)

The furthe you go back in these links, the scarier it becomes!