What is Anthrax Disease?

Anthrax disease is an ancient disease that is caused by a bacteria, Bacillus anthracis. It is a microbe that resides in soil. It was usually observed in the United States of America. In the year 2001, the anthrax disease came into existence. The bacteria is in the rod shape with the gram-positive. It contaminates the soil, which in turn affects wild animals and domestic animals. Let us explore more about the anthrax disease like anthrax definition, prevention, symptoms, etc.


Definition

Coming to the Anthrax definition, anthrax is a disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. It produces dormant spores in the soil. These are inactive spores that don't do any harm. If these spores enter the body of an animal or a human being, the spores get activated due to the presence of water, salt, and nutrients. These activated spores can produce more bacteria and cause illness to the body. The anthrax meaning specifies that it is not a contagious disease and cannot spread from one person to another like a cold or flu, or any other virus.


Causes of Anthrax Disease

The anthrax disease can be caused by four kinds of contacts: inhalation, ingestion or touching, etc. 

Human beings get infected by anthrax disease with the exposure of spores to skin or two lungs or by inhalation or by ingestion. Whenever these spores enter the human body, they become activated and multiply the bacteria, which produce toxins. These poisonous toxins cause illness to the body.

Similarly, anthrax is caused by eating plants produced on the affected soil or by touching the contaminated soil or by breathing, etc., in animals. This can be termed anthrax in cattle. Once spores enter the animal's body, the same process repeats and causes illness.


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Types of Anthrax

There are four different types of anthrax diseases based on the affected area of the body. Each of them is explained in detail- 

Cutaneous anthrax is a type of anthrax that is caused by contact with the skin. This is also known as the skin anthrax. It appears like an insect bite on the skin with a black hole in the centre. It can be cured by normal treatment. The symptoms for cutaneous anthrax are - 

  • An itchy bump occurs in the affected area. But it is painless with the sore skin. It is termed as "malignant pustule". We can define a pustule as sour skin with an itchy bump.

  • Swelling is observed on the lymph glands. 

  • Usually, the symptoms can be observed from 4 to 5 days after the exposure. 

  • In some cases, other flu conditions like a fever, headache, etc., will appear.


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Gastrointestinal anthrax is another type of anthrax disease which is caused by eating uncooked meat of affected animals. This gastrointestinal anthrax disease affects the body from the throat to the colon. The signs are - 

  • Nausea, breathing issues

  • Vomitings and sensations

  • Abdominal pain

  • Headache

  • Swollen neck

  • Loss of appetite

  • Fever, flu, etc. 

  • Severe, bloody diarrhoea at a severe stage of disease

  • Sore throat, which causes difficulty in swallowing

Inhalation anthrax is another route for affecting anthrax disease. The name itself specifies that it is caused by inhaling the spore substances. The symptoms are somehow similar to gastrointestinal anthrax. 

  • Difficulty in breathing and swallowing food.

  • Sore throat, fatigue, mild fever, etc.

  • Vomiting blood while coughing etc.

Injection anthrax is the latest route of affecting the anthrax disease in the form of biological war. These spores can be injected into the body by drugs. It was recently observed in Europe.

  • Redness at the area of injection and causes pain or itching.

  • Significant swelling on the injected part.

  • Shock or dilemma

  • Multiple organ failure was observed

  • Meningitis

These are the various types of anthrax diseases and their symptoms. The disease will also use it as a biological weapon for attacking other countries. They can be easily produced in labs themselves and can be injected in a powder form or a liquid form. So several countries use this for their bio-wars.

Along with all these facts, the doctors and the scientists and researchers produced a vaccine for anthrax prevention. This vaccine can be prescribed for the areas where anthrax disease can be absorbed. Also, prescribed doses were given to people who have high-risk factors. Also, they declared that anthrax is not a contagious disease and broke down the false exemptions of various people that anthrax is a virus. Several people had earlier decided, and stated anthrax virus is a new virus that causes long-lasting disease.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Who Has More Risk of Anthrax Disease?

Ans. The people and animals surviving in some regions of the world will get affected by this anthrax disease frequently. Those regions are- 

  • Central and South America

  • The Caribbean

  • Southern Europe

  • Eastern Europe region

  • Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Central and southwestern Asia. 

  • Military personnel

  • People who are working with the processing of animal products and handling important export of animal products.

Apart from these, the people working in the nearby regions, lab workers, veterinary doctors, and medical staff, etc also have a high risk of Anthrax disease. 

2. What are the Preventive Measures Taken to Restrict the Anthrax Disease?

Ans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest some basic preventive measures to reduce the causes and risk factors of anthrax disease. They are - 

  • Ciprofloxacin, doxycycline and levofloxacin, etc. antibiotics are provided for both adults and children by reducing the dosage.

  • Anthrax vaccine is provided in three doses.

  • In few cases, the treatment can be made through monoclonal antibiotics.

  • One should try to avoid uncooked meat from infected animals. All the meat can be slaughtered and cooked thoroughly to avoid infections.

  • Veterinarians should be cautious while treating the animals and touching their affected parts.

  • Take necessary preventive measures while processing the animal products like cool, silk, milk, or any other.

These are some general preventive measures that can reduce the chances of causing anthrax disease.