Armenia confirms anthrax outbreak

Public health officials in Armenia recently announced that laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of anthrax in one of 15 potential cases.

Fifteen people suspected to have been exposed to a suspicious illness in the Vardenis district of Armenia's Gegharkunik Province were ordered by the Armenian Health Ministry to be tested for the illness, according to

The results confirmed the presence of anthrax in only one person, although nine were found to have a non-pathogenic form of the disease. The rest of the samples tested negative. Doctors said that all of the patients are in satisfactory condition.

The outbreak has prompted the ministry to conduct further testing. Since the initial results were confirmed, one person has been hospitalized with a suspected case of anthrax in the Armenian capital of Yerevan. An additional 21 people have been hospitalized in Martuni, a city in the Gegharkunik Province, reports.

Anthrax is considered to be a major potential weapon of bioterrorism, but it also occurs naturally. The bacteria is not spread from person to person and can exist in a dormant state in the form of spores for many years. The spores can activate when they come into contact with human skin, are ingested or inhaled.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies anthrax as Category A biological agent, placing it among those pathogens that are the most dangerous to public health.