What is Anthrax Disease?
What is Anthrax Disease? Anthrax disease is a serious and rare disease caused by Bacillus anthracis bacteria. Usually these bacteria infect livestock and animals used in the game, such as rodeo, karapan cow, or sheep race. B.anthracis bacteria produce spores that can spread the infection.
Transmission to humans may occur by inhaling anthrax spores or consuming anthrax diseased animals. To date there is no medical evidence to suggest that anthrax-causing bacteria can be transmitted between humans. However, a healthy person has the possibility of contracting if he has a skin injury that is in direct contact with an injury to the skin of an anthrax patient.
Some of the factors that can increase a person’s risk of becoming infected with anthrax are:
- In contact with skin or animal hair in areas at risk of anthrax.
- Conducting studies related to anthrax in the laboratory.
- Take care of game animals (rodeo, karapan sapi, lamb fight).
- Use injecting drugs, such as heroin.
- Having a job as a veterinarian, especially dealing with farm animals.
- Activities in high-risk areas are exposed to anthrax.
If not treated promptly, anthrax can cause serious complications such as membrane inflammation and cerebrospinal fluid and spine (meningitis), which then cause severe bleeding, then lead to death.
Symptoms of Anthrax Disease
In most cases of anthrax, the symptoms will be seen approximately 7 days after the exposure to bacteria. However, if the transmission through the air, the symptoms will usually appear only a few weeks after the bacterial spores inhaled.
Symptoms of anthrax are differentiated according to the mode of transmission, namely:
- Anthrax skin. In this type of anthrax, bacteria infect the patient’s body through cuts or other cuts in the skin. Anthrax skin is the most common type, and the lightest. With the right treatment, rarely causes death. Symptoms are an itchy bump like an insect bite in an infected area. This lump then becomes a painless ulcer, with the center of black. In addition, there may be swelling of the lymph nodes near the site of the wound.
- Gastrointestinal anthrax. Anthrax bacteria enter the patient’s body through the consumption of anthrax-infected animals, which are not cooked until cooked. Symptoms of gastrointestinal anthrax are nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, decreased appetite, fever, severe diarrhea with blood-mixed dirt, sore throat and difficulty swallowing, and swelling of the neck.
- Anthrax inhalation. This type of anthrax develops when the patient inhales anthrax spores. Anthrax inhalation is the most lethal type. The initial symptoms of this type of anthrax resemble symptoms of flu, such as fever, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue. Then comes the discomfort to the chest, shortness of breath, nausea, coughing up blood, pain during swallowing, high fever, difficulty breathing, shock, and meningitis occur.
- Anthrax injection. Usually bacteria enter the body through injection of drugs. This type is the most recent mode of transmission found. Symptoms are redness at the site of injection, severe swelling, shock, multi-organ failure, and meningitis.
Causes of Anthrax Disease
Anthrax spores are produced by Bacillus anthracis bacteria found in the soil. These spores can live inactive without the host for several years.
Farm animals such as goats, sheep, cattle, or horses are generally hosts of anthrax spores. And most humans are infected with anthrax from the skin or flesh of animals infected with anthrax.
Anthrax is not transmitted between one person to another. Therefore, a person who is in contact with an anthrax patient should not be immunized or treated. However, one needs to be vigilant when in the same anthrax spreading area as the sufferer, or exposed to the same source of infection (livestock, game animals).
In diagnosing anthrax, the initial examination is to rule out the possibility of other diseases that have similar symptoms, such as flu or pneumonia with anthrax-like symptoms of inhalation. After that, further examination can be done, such as:
- Pathological examination. Liquid from a suspected wound or skin tissue sample in the infected area will be taken for examination.
- Blood examination. Examine the presence or absence of anthrax bacteria in the patient’s blood.
- Dirt inspection. Patients’ filings are examined to confirm the diagnosis of gastrointestinal anthrax.
- Scanning. X-rays or chest CT scans, performed on patients suspected of having inhaled anthrax.
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap). Sampling of brain fluid from the patient’s spine area for further examination, in order to confirm the diagnosis of meningitis caused by anthrax.
Common antibiotics given as anthrax treatment are ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, and levofloxacin. Anthrax treatment will be effective if done as soon as possible, and often by combining a number of antibiotics. Several factors that may affect the success rate of treatment are:
- Age of the patient
- The health condition of the patient in general.
- Area of the infected body.
Inhaled anthrax patients often do not respond well to treatment, because bacteria have already produced many toxins that can not be completely eliminated by drugs. While in anthrax injection, some cases can be cured by lifting the infected body tissue through surgery.
To prevent contracting anthrax, it is advisable to consume cooked meat and avoid contact with infected animals.
Anthrax can also be prevented by administering anthrax vaccine. But this vaccine is not intended for the public, and not recommended for children and elderly. Until now, this vaccine is only recommended for military personnel, scientists who research on anthrax, and people with professions at high risk of this disease.