Anthrax outbreak in Colombia

According to Colombia Reports, a state of emergency was declared in the northwest part of the South American country of Colombia on Tuesday following an anthrax outbreak in the northwest department of La Guajira.

Two people have died as a result of the outbreak, according to the report. So far, 77 people have been treated for skin lesion outbreaks consistent with the effects of anthrax exposure, but only three cases have been confirmed by doctors, accroding to Colombia Reports.

As a result of the anthrax outbreak, authorities have closed down goat slaughterhouses in the region in an effort to prevent the spread of the outbreak, according to the report. Anthrax can be contracted through exposure to animals that have anthrax or animal products as well. Those who work with dead animals are considered to be at a high risk to contract the illness, the report states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies anthrax as a Category A bioterrorism agent, meaning it can pose the greatest risk possible of a negative public health effect. Anthrax can be contracted through contact with infected animals or from breathing in an anthrax spores from infected animal byproducts such as wool.