Anthrax infections growing in China

Chinese health officials in Liaoning Province suspect that nine more people have been infected with cutaneous anthrax, bringing the total number of infected cases in the area to 30.

Of the reported cases, only three have been officially confirmed and 27 are still under investigation, the Liaoning Provincial Health Department revealed, reports.

One patient was transferred to a hospital located in the provincial capital of Shenyang, but the other 29 are being treated at an infectious disease hospital in the city of Anshan. All of the patients are under strict quarantine, according to

Initial investigations by local health officials have indicated that the infected most likely caught the disease after having direct contact with sick cattle. Cutaneous anthrax is rarely fatal if properly treated. Even if untreated, 80 percent of those who become infected with cutaneous anthrax do not die, according to

Anthrax, caused by the bacterium bacillus anthracis, is a potentially fatal disease that can affect both humans and animals. It commonly infects wild and domesticated animals that either ingest or inhale the spores while grazing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies anthrax as a Category A agent, among those agents that pose the greatest possible risk to public health.