Russian farm sparks anthrax fears

An emergency was recently declared at a southern Russian farm in the republic of Kalmykia due to an outbreak of anthrax.

Anthrax was found in the meat of a cow that had been slaughtered at a livestock farm in the Gorodovikovksky region of Kalmykia. The cow had been under surveillance for the disease, according to, and laboratory tests came back positive.

To halt the spread of the disease, a large number of livestock in the region - some 256 head of cattle, horses and pigs - have been vaccinated, according to the regional emergency department.

Anthrax is most commonly found in wild animals and domesticated livestock like cattle and sheep. The hoofed animals generally ingest or inhale anthrax spores while grazing. Humans in close contact with infected animals are most likely to contract the disease.

Anthrax in humans is contracted in three recognized forms - cutaneous, pulmonary and gastrointestinal. It can be highly lethal in all forms, but in some it responds well to antibiotic treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies anthrax as a category A biological agent. It is considered to pose a grave threat to public health should it be used as a weapon since it can spread rapidly and would take a substantial effort to stop.

In 2001, a mail attack using anthrax infected 22 people, killing several, underscoring the diseases potential as a bioweapon.