Philippines report 23 suspected anthrax cases

The Philippine Department of Health in Cordillera warned the public this week to be vigilant following 23 suspected cases of anthrax that were recently reported in Abra after citizens ate meat from a dead caribou.

Between January 17 and January 24, the number of suspected anthrax cases in Abra rose from 12 to 23. The cases were in the barangays of Cayapa, Bacooc and Paganao in Lagangilang, Abra, reports.

The majority of those suspected to be infected were males, the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit said, including three children. Two people were admitted to the Abra Provincial Hospital but were discharged four days later.

The patients exhibited symptoms similar to those of anthrax infection, including skin lesions, muscle pain and itchy skin, headaches, fatigue, stomach pain, difficulty breathing, sore throat and a dry cough, 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.