Disease in Herbivorous Animals: Anthrax
Date Added: 08 July 2019, 16:50
Last Updated Date:18 November 2020, 14:55
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kaya Süer, specialist doctor at the Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology Department of Near East University Hospital, delivered information about anthrax disease: He indicates that anthrax is primarily a disease in herbivorous animals and is uncommon in TRNC. He highlights that humans may get the infection directly or indirectly from the infected animals or their products.

Anthrax is seen in animals feed on grass
Expressing that anthrax disease caused by bacterium Bacillus anthracis is one of the oldest infectious diseases known in herbivorous animals and occasionally in humans, Associate Professor Kaya Süer underlines that anthrax is primarily a disease of herbivorous animals and is uncommon in humans who may get the infection through contact with infected animals or their products.

"Diseases which can be transmitted to humans from infected animals are called zoonosis. Therefore, anthrax is a zoonotic disease. Zoonosis can be caused by a range of disease pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Mass deaths due to zoonotic diseases can be seen. Disease table is endemic in risky geographic regions of countries. Although diseases are seen throughout the developing world where conditions exist for zoonosis, the animal-transmitted anthrax cases have a decreasing prevalence in the developed countries while cases can still be seen in developing countries. While the frequency and prevalence of zoonotic diseases decrease in many developed countries, Asia, Africa and South America can be defined as the most common geography for anthrax cases. 37 human anthrax cases were reported in Turkey in 2017. The prevalence of this disease is very low in TRNC” noted he.

The disease is transmitted from animals to humans
Expressing that the disease is transmitted from the infected animals or animal products to humans directly or indirectly, Associate Professor Kaya Süer stated that transmission source of the disease could be industrial, agricultural, laboratory or biological weapon.

“Industrial anthrax occurs during processing animal products such as dry hides, skins, sheep wool, goat hair and bone meal. Anthrax is usually spread in the form of a spore. The bacterium that causes anthrax can enter human body through broken skin (contact), lungs (inhale), gastrointestinal tract (eating), and intravenous drug administration (injection).

The risk of anthrax transmission among humans is negligible. The groups at risk in terms of transmission are those engaged in animal husbandry, butchers and veterinarians and those working in the animal products industry, shortly, risk factors include people in close proximity of animals or animal products. Anthrax can occur in four clinical forms known as cutaneous anthrax, gastrointestinal anthrax, inhalation (pulmonary) anthrax, and injection anthrax in people using intravenous illegal drug.

Asserting that there are effective antibiotics in the treatment of anthrax, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Süer says that penicillin is the first effective antibiotic to be used to treat anthrax disease, of which bacterium had been isolated in our country. Stating that antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or doxycycline could be administrated to treat anthrax in those who are allergic to penicillin, Associate Professor Süer highlighted that treatment was the most effective when started as soon as possible. “In addition to antibiotics, commercial monoclonal antibody preparations prepared against anthrax immunoglobulin or anthrax toxins are also recommended for the treatment of gastrointestinal and inhalation (pulmonary) anthrax. In our country, both human and animal anthrax are diseases obligatory to be reported. Reporting the patients is important for public health and prevention" noted he.

Ways of protection
Stating that isolation measures should be taken for patients to certain extent, Associate Professor Kaya Süer highlighted the significant role of wearing gown and gloves in preventing the transmission of the disease via spores. “Most anthrax infections occur when people touch an infected animal or contaminated animal products like wool, bone, hair and hide. The infection occurs when the bacteria enters a cut or scratch in the skin. So, it is of importance to wear gown and gloves to prevent the spores enter the body through an open sore. Breathing in the spores that have been spread through the air could cause inhalation (lung) anthrax. In environments where the risk of the exposure to an aerosol of anthrax spores exists, it is highly recommended to wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as gown, mask and glasses.

Many animal diseases, including anthrax, are contagious and can be transmitted to humans. Although food of animal origin like meat, milk, eggs, cheese and yogurt have a significant role on the physical and mental development, animal health and animal source foods require close surveillance and control in terms of human health. We have to keep in mind that contagious animal diseases can be transmitted to human either by direct contact or by consuming animal source foods. Avoiding the consumption of raw food of animal origin, mainly meat and milk, avoiding the consumption of meat that has not been properly cooked, avoiding the slaughtering the infected or sick animals without having competence in using appropriate protective materials, avoiding the consumption of meat from dead or sick animals, are some of the personal precautions that can be taken to prevent anthrax and other diseases contagious to persons from other farm animals. Slaughtering and flaying of animals suspected to be infected with anthrax should be banned, disposal processes should be followed, and transport vehicles carrying infected animals should be disinfected” noted he.

Vaccination should be carried out
Asserting that a central planning, close surveillance and tight control throughout the country was required to prevent anthrax and other contagious animal diseases, Associate Professor Kaya Süer stated that the appropriate vaccination of animals and strict control of the importing process of livestock should be ensured. Indicating that animal health, which is closely associated with public health, should be subjected to notification, assoc. Prof. Dr. Süer delivered further information: "It can't be understood whether the meat purchased from market or butcher is from an animal infected with anthrax bacterium. However, anthrax can be detected during slaughtering due to non-clotted and black animal blood. In such a case that anthrax is suspected, it should be reported and appropriate samples should be collected for confirmatory tests. Where a case of anthrax is confirmed after veterinary examination of affected animals and laboratory testing of samples, the affected property is quarantined, potentially exposed stocks are vaccinated, dead animals are safely disposed of and contaminated sites disinfected”.

Special Disinfection Methods Should Be Used
Highlighting the crucial role of disinfection during slaughtering, Associate Professor Süer delivered information: “Special disinfection methods must be used for materials used in slaughtering an animal with proven or strongly suspected anthrax. Otherwise, the slaughtering materials are contaminated with intense anthrax spores. However, there is no need for special disinfection of materials such as knives, blades, rows, cutting boards used to cut meat in the domestic environment. Washing with plenty of soapy water or with detergent water is sufficient. Without being washed as indicated, knives, blades, rows, cutting boards that used to cut meat shouldn't be used to slice, peel or cut raw consumed foods such as fruits and vegetables. After touching raw meat, it is sufficient to wash the hands with plenty of soapy water. Persons with open sores on their hands should avoid touching meat without wearing gloves. It is recommended that people with open sores, who come into contact with raw meat, be closely monitored for skin lesions. ”