Anthrax incidence in India on the rise

The incidence of anthrax is believed to be increasing in the Koraput District of Orissa, India, due to a lack of awareness among tribal residents and the negligence of the District Health Administration and Animal Resources Department.

Over the last nine years, 45 people have been killed by the disease and 439 have been infected, according to a recent report by

According to the report, despite being discovered for the first time in Sarapalli of the Bandhugan Block in 1992 and later in eight other locations, little action was taken to stop the disease.

Since 2002, records show the prevalence of the disease increasing. In 2002, two people died of anthrax out of a total 42 who had been infected. By 2008, eight people died out of 68 infections, reports. The numbers came down for 2010 with zero dead out of 22 infected, but the concern remains.

Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. It occurs in three recognized forms - cutaneous, pulmonary and gastrointestinal. It commonly affects hoofed animals such as sheep or goats, but humans who come into contact with infected animals are at risk.

Its high rate of lethality has made anthrax a feared weapon of bioterrorism, as demonstrated by a spate of 2001 mail attacks that infected 22 people and killed several.