What is Anthrax?

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Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported a significant anthrax outbreak in Zambia, marking an alarming spread of the disease across nine out of the country's ten provinces.

About Anthrax

  • It is a highly infectious disease that is caused by the gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis.
  • It affects animals like cows, sheep, and goats, as well as wild herbivores. 
  • Even humans can get sick if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.
  • Anthrax bacteria also occur naturally in soil.
  • Symptoms of anthrax
    • The disease manifests in three forms depending on the route of infection: cutaneous, gastrointestinal, and inhalational.
    • Cutaneous anthrax, the most common form, presents with itchy bumps that develop into black sores, often accompanied by fever and muscle aches.
  • How is anthrax diagnosed?
    • It can be diagnosed by identifying Bacillus anthracis in blood, skin lesions, or respiratory secretions through laboratory culture, PCR, or ELISA tests.
    • While there is no specific test to determine exposure to anthrax, public health investigations play a crucial role in identifying potential cases.
  • Treatment: It is available and includes antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, or levofloxacin.
  • Vaccines are also available for both livestock and humans.

Q1) What is Bacteria ?

Bacteria are small single-celled organisms. Bacteria are found almost everywhere on Earth and are vital to the planet's ecosystems.

Source: Anthrax outbreak in South Africa: All you need to know about the infectious disease