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|Paynesville Press - October 24, 2001|
Anthrax is not new
Anthrax has been in the news daily over the last couple of weeks. However, anthrax is not a new disease. |
There have been over 200 cases diagnosed in Minnesota over the past 90 years. The last outbreak was this year in extreme northwest Minnesota and involved 90 animals. Nationally, there have been 200 cases of anthrax reported in humans in the past 50 years with the last reported case in Minnesota in 1953.
Anthrax is caused by a bacterium, bacillius anthracis. Bacillius anthracis forms spores when exposed to the environment. These spores are resistant to drying. UV light, temperature extremes, desiccation, and chemical disinfectants. It can remain viable in the soil for decades. The most common ways animals get infected is by ingesting these spores when grazing. Therefore, cattle, goats, deer, and horses are animals most often affected. Because the bacteria are ingested, rapid death often occurs in animals.Death from anthrax is often confused with lightning strikes because death is so rapid.
Producers that have had anthrax identified in their area should watch for “sudden” death or acute illness, especially among grazing animals. Any suspicious cases should be reported promptly to their local veterinarian. Bear and deer hunters in areas where anthrax has been diagnosed should be on the lookout for any diseased animals. Hunters in extreme northwestern Minnesota should be especially cautious. Any suspicious animals should not be harvested and should be reported to authorities immediately. The same principle applies for animals suspected of having any disease. None of these animals should be harvested for food.
In humans there are three forms of the disease: cutaneous, pulmonary and intestinal. Cutaneous or skin anthrax is the most common form of the disease. This form accounts for over 90 percent of all cases and results when the organism enters broken skin. With early identification and prompt antibiotic treatment the risk of developing complications are rare.
The pulmonary form of the disease is rare and caused by breathing the spores from contaminated material. The intestinal form of anthrax is caused by the consumption of inadequately cooked meat. There has never been a reported case of intestinal anthrax in Minnesota.
For more information, check the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary website at www.cvm. umn.edu/anhlth.html or your local county extension office.
1. Anthrax is a bacterial disease that occurs sporadically in the United States in both animals and humans.
2. Exposure most commonly involves spore-contaminated soil or animal products.
3. Both veterinarians and physicians are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of anthrax.
4. Treatments and vaccines exist for anthrax.
5. Anthrax is a reportable disease for both animals and humans.
6. Keep reference materials pertaining to human and animal diseases readily available. Know where to go for additional information.
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