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What is Anthrax?

What is Anthrax?

Anthrax is a rare but serious disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It is caused by a bacterium that is common among livestock and wild animals. People can become infected through direct or indirect contact with sick animals. Anthrax occurs in various regions around the world. It is particularly common in Central America, South America, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, Southwest Asia, Southern Europe, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean.

How is anthrax transmitted?

Anthrax bacteria usually enter the body through skin wounds. In addition, consuming meat from infected animals or inhaling bacterial spores can also lead to anthrax infection. A notable example is a bioterrorist attack with spores sent through the mail in 2001. As a result of contact with the spores, 22 people developed anthrax and five died. Anthrax was also used as a biological weapon during the First World War.

Symptoms and Types of Anthrax

Anthrax can show different symptoms depending on how the infected person came into contact with it. Here are the signs and symptoms according to the types of anthrax:

Cutaneous Anthrax: Cutaneous anthrax is caused by skin contact, the most common route of transmission. Symptoms include rapidly growing, painless sores with black centers on the skin surface, swollen lymph nodes, fever and headache.

Gastrointestinal Anthrax: This strain is usually caused by inadequate cooking of meat from infected animals. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, difficulty swallowing, neck swelling, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea.

Inhaled Anthrax: Inhalational anthrax is caused by inhaling bacterial spores. Symptoms include sore throat, mild fever, fatigue, muscle aches, coughing up blood, meningitis, nausea, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and shock.

Injection Anthrax A strain transmitted through illegal drug injections in Europe. Symptoms include redness at the injection site, swelling, shock, multiple organ failure and meningitis.

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How is anthrax diagnosed?

Diagnosis of anthrax is based on the risk of exposure to anthrax and symptoms. First, symptoms that may be caused by influenza or other diseases are excluded. In suspicious cases, skin tests, blood tests, stool tests and spinal fluid tests can be used to diagnose anthrax. X-rays or computed tomography scans can also be used to evaluate the respiratory transmission of anthrax.

How is anthrax treated?

Early diagnosis is very important in the treatment of anthrax. The most common treatment method is antibiotic drugs prescribed by a doctor. Antibiotics are effective against infected bacteria and can stop the spread of the disease. Antitoxin treatments can also be used to remove anthrax toxins from the body.

Inhaled anthrax cases can respond poorly to treatment and can be fatal. Early diagnosis and treatment are therefore vital. In addition, anthrax patients may receive supportive care. This may include giving patients intravenous fluids, using a ventilator and supporting the circulatory system with medications.

How to prevent anthrax?

The following measures can be taken to prevent anthrax:

People living or traveling in high-risk areas should limit contact with livestock or animal products and cook meat well.
Veterinarians, hunters and those working in high-risk occupations should use anthrax vaccine and protective equipment.
Animals should be vaccinated regularly.
Appropriate hygiene and protective measures should be taken in areas at risk of anthrax transmission.
Anthrax is a serious disease that can be successfully managed with early diagnosis and treatment.

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