Anthrax, What is Anthrax, Animal Infections,

Nursing

Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Primarily a disease of herbivorous animals, but it can infect all mammals including humans. The B. Anthracis spores can be found in animal products such as wool, hair, hides, skins, bones, meal and the carcasses of infected animals. The spores can survive in the soil for many years.

Causative organism

* Bacillus anthracis

Incubation period

* 1 to 7 days

* Up to 60 days post exposure

Modes of transmission

There are three main modes of transmission:

* Direct contact

* Airborne

* Gastrointestinal infection

Signs and symptoms

* Cutaneous infection

* Malaise

* Fever

* Headache

* Respiratory infection

* Cyanosis

* Shock

* Death

* Nausea

* Loss of Appetite

* Vomiting

* Abdominal pain

* Toxemia

Risk factors

* Workers who come into contact with animal hides

* Workers involved in the handling of dead animals

Diagnosis

* Identification of the typical Gram positive bacilli of Bacillus anthracis from skin lesions

* Respiratory secretions

Management

* Treatment should be initiated as soon as possible.

* Mild cases of cutaneous anthrax may be effectively treated with oral Penicillin or tetracycline

* Treatment of inhalation or gastrointestinal anthrax requires high dose intravenous Penicillin

Preventive Measures

* Controlling anthrax in livestock

* Preventing gastrointestinal anthrax by forbidding the sale of meat from sick animals or animals that have died of the disease

* Regular cleaning and disinfection of the workplace

* Disinfecting animal products

* Processing hides, wool, and bone by tanning, dyeing, carbonizing or using acid treatment

* Administering vaccines

Good hygiene practice (hand washing avoiding hand to eye/mouth contact) and need to cover cuts and abrasions.

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