Anthrax outbreak in India

Health officials in Orissa, India's Koraput district say anthrax cases in humans are on the rise, according to a news report released by the Indo-Asian News Service.

Medical officer Nabaghana Chaudhuri told IANS reporters that the number of human anthrax cases is now at 18. Five new cases were confirmed on Wednesday.

“The latest infections have been detected in Semiliguda block,” Chaudhuri said.

He reported that, so far, three people of Biliguda village have contracted the disease as well as one each in the Parajakhandi and Bariguda villages.

All of the infected developed the illness June 2, according to the IANS report.

Approximately 13 people from two villages under the neighboring Dasmantpur block were also treated last month after medical officials confirmed they had been infected.

“All these people got the anthrax virus after eating rotten meat,” Chaudhuri told IANS. “Those affected, including the latest five persons, are out of danger. Medical teams are camping in the affected villages to prevent spread of the disease.”

Anthrax, mainly a disease of farm animals but a leading bioterror hazard, is spread by spores. The fatality rate without quick antibiotic treatment after inhaling anthrax spores is as high as 80 percent.

Anthrax mainly affects wild and domestic lower vertebrates like cattle, goats and other herbivores, but can also infect humans. When anthrax infects humans, it is usually due to an occupational exposure to infected animals or their products. Those infected will suffer nausea, vomiting of blood, and abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea and weakness.