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Anthrax outbreak in Bangladesh

7th September 2010

People in Bangladesh are gearing up to defend themselves against an anthrax outbreak.

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The country has requested that its livestock and health officials be on red alert.

So far, 300 cattle have died and 150 people have fallen ill as a result of the outbreak, with over 300 people infected so far.

Bangladeshi authorities hope they can control the spread of the deadly bacteria, and stop it from entering other regions of the country.

People infected with anthrax often suffer high fevers. They may also experience severe pain, swollen tissues, and develop lesions.

People infected with anthrax can die if they are not treated immediately.

The dangerous bacteria are spread when cattle come into contact with the anthrax bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, during grazing.

Cattle are the sole means by which anthrax is spread, and people cannot pass the bacterium between themselves.

Eating the meat of an infected cow is the main way people can become infected with the disease.

The recent Bangladeshi outbreak began late last month, in a district about 90 miles from the country's capital.

People in the Sirajganj district fell sick after eating meat from infected cattle.

Abdul Latif Biswas, Bangladeshi minister for fisheries and livestock, said that his department had issued a red alert and asked livestock officials, civil surgeons and health workers to detect sick cows and cull them immediately.

In order to deal with the outbreak, health authorities have shipped and distributed about 500,000 vials of cattle vaccine to affected regions.

Pharmaceutical companies in Bangladesh will also plan to produce more vaccines, and people have buried the carcasses of their dead cattle.

So far, anthrax has spread to five districts of Bangladesh, all in the north and east of the country.

There are also unconfirmed reports of outbreaks in two other districts of the country.

Livestock department deputy director Mosaddek Hossain said that the current outbreak was the biggest in the country's history.

He said that the government had set up surveillance teams all over the country.

Impoverished farmers have panicked to see so many of their cattle dying, and some have eaten the diseased cattle.

Anthrax exists naturally in soil, infecting livestock which ingest or inhale its spores.

Mahmudur Rahman, a director of the Bangladeshi health ministry, said that all cases so far had affected people's skin, causing wound-like lesions.

He said that he and his department were fighting hard to contain the disease, despite the fact that they received reports of new infections on a more or less daily basis.

 

 

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