Bangladeshi anthrax outbreak numbers rise

The outbreak of anthrax in Bangladesh continues to escalate, with the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research revealing that 32 new infections have been reported.

To date, the Financial Express reports, 479 people have been infected during the anthrax outbreak, which began in Sirajganj on August 18. Authorities believe that the infections stem from meat tainted with anthrax that was sold at local markets.

All of the anthrax infections have been cutaneous and no deaths have yet been reported, health officials say.

A red alert was announced by the government on September 3 for the entire nation as the anthrax spread to new districts. Committees were then formed in the districts to coordinate anthrax prevention and treatment efforts.

Quarantines, animal vaccinations and education programs have all been utilized to quell the outbreak, the Financial Express reports. Despite these efforts, however, anthrax outbreaks have been reported in eight of the nation's 64 districts. Response efforts are currently being coordinated by health officials among all 64 districts.

Despite these efforts, reports have arisen that as much as 35 percent of the meat currently offered for sale in Bangladeshi markets may be tainted with anthrax bacteria.

Anthrax is highly contagious and can be acquired by simply handling the wool or hides of infected animals. It is considered to have a high potential to be used as biological weapon by terrorists groups because of is contagiousness, low survivability and lethality.