Azerbaijan fears anthrax outbreak in Georgia

Azerbaijan's ministry of agriculture recently warned customs authorities and retail facilities to remain on alert for signs of an anthrax outbreak spreading out of neighboring Georgia.

The Azerbaijan State Veterinary Service, which is part of the ministry, said the warning particularly applies to meat and other food products imported from Georgia, according to

Baku said it recently sent a request to the Veterinary Service of Georgia for a report on the outbreak, but has yet to receive any information.

The veterinary service said that all imported meat should be vaccinated and placed in a 21 day pre-export quarantine in order to conduct laboratory safety testing.

The Georgian media reported that the anthrax outbreak has spread to regions of the country heavily populated by Azerbaijanis. At least 30 people have been infected, including 20 Azerbaijanis, since the outbreak began. No cases of anthrax have been reported inside Azerbaijan, according to

Anthrax is a disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Outbreaks of the disease occur in nature, usually when people handle products from infected animals.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers anthrax to be a Category A biological agent, one that poses a significant potential risk for use by terrorists against public health. In 2001, anthrax was deliberately sent through the U.S. postal system, infecting 22 people and killing five, according to the CDC.