Philippines reports 23 cases of anthrax infection

The Philippines Department of Health recently sent a team to help local officials in the northern province of Abra after 23 cases of cutaneous anthrax infection were reported since the last week of December.

Enrique Ona, the department's health secretary, said that the people experiencing the signs and symptoms of cutaneous anthrax infection were all males between the ages of two and 52 years of age, Xinhua reports.

"A Department of Health team is now assisting local officials in coordination with the Bureau of Animal Industry in the conduct of an outbreak investigation," Ona said, according to Xinhua.

Ona said that anthrax is endemic in the Philippines and that it typically affects animals such as the carabao, a species of water buffalo.

Humans can become infected with anthrax after being exposed to diseased or deceased animals. Cutaneous anthrax occurs when humans handle dead animals without protection which allows for anthrax spores to cause skin lesions via cuts.

"Those who develop skin lesions two (to) five days after handling deceased animals or contaminated flesh should seek medical advice," Ona said, according to Xinhua.

The other two types of anthrax are inhalational and gastrointestinal, which occur when anthrax spores are either breathed in or digested. Cutaneous anthrax is the most common of the three forms, Xinhua reports.