Tropical Disease Control
Anthrax is a very highly infectious disease mainly linked with domesticated animals such as cattle and horses. Anthrax is defined as fatal infection from bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. Research has also revealed that humans can contract anthrax through contact with infected animal products. Off late, anthrax has received a lot of publicity because of it use as a weapon and the fatality it presents to mankind. Surprisingly, anthrax cannot be transmitted from one individual to the other, but it is not contagious (Decker & Hecht, 2009).
Causes and symptoms
Anthrax is caused by a bacterium agent known as Bacillus anthracis. There are basically three forms of anthrax, categorized in relation to the manner in which infection occurs; cutaneous or skin, inhalation or lung, and gastrointestinal or digestive anthrax. Cutaneous anthrax refers to an infection which occurs when spores enter the human body through cuts or breakage in the human skin. Inhalation refers to a case where the bacteria are inhaled through the nose; this infection mostly affects the lungs. Gastrointestinal anthrax refers to a form of infection where the bacteria are ingested into the alimentary canal (Schwartz, 2002).
The duration before which symptoms can be visible depends on the infection one has contracted. In cases of cutaneous anthrax, symptoms are known to appear 5 to 7 days after infection but it has also been known to take up to 60 days. The symptoms start by occurrence of a red, raised bump on the skin that feels itchy. The bump later becomes painless and may develop fluid to form a blister and later develops into a black spot of dying skin tissue. Patients may also experience fever, persistent headaches and swollen lymph nodes (Taylor, 2003).
Inhalation anthrax has been documented as probably the worst and most fatal form of anthrax. Symptoms tend to occur or appear between 1 to 7 days after being exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms associated with this form of anthrax include: Experiencing a sore throat, the patient may feel a sensation of flu, while some may also experience mild fever, and at times feel short or lack of breath. Patients experience difficulty in breathing, have a high fever and occasionally suffer from shock 5 days after infection. Usually a patient dies after a few days from the on set of these symptoms (Veenema, 2007).
They are characterized by mouth ulcers, have a dry sore throat, experience problems with swallowing food, leads to lack of appetite, high fever and vomiting. As it progresses, there occurs problems in breathing due to the swelling of the throat, may experience bloody vomit or diarrhea occasionally with belly pain caused by accumulation of fluids (Decker & Hecht, 2009).
Prevention and control
Anthrax infections can be controlled and prevented using the following guidelines, which may include: Frequent surveillance and vaccination of animals as most infections occur through contact with infected animal products. Educating the public on the symptoms and causes of anthrax to minimize infections is another control measure. This can be achieved through the development of rules to govern prevention and control procedures and policies, practice of sterilization and disinfection of equipment in hospitals to minimize risk of infection to hospital staff. Use of the anthrax vaccine can also be used to immunize during risks of an outburst of the disease, and use of antibiotics and vaccines to treat persons already exposed to the disease (Keyes, 2005).
Anthrax is a fatal and deadly disease capable of killing a person within a remarkably short period. Measures should be put in place in preparedness for possible outbreaks. The public should be sensitized on the possible causes and means of controlling and preventing infection.
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