Suspected Anthrax Outbreak In Bangladesh

BANGLADESH - At least 112 people have so far fallen ill with suspected anthrax, contracted from consuming meat of ill domestic animals recently in northwestern Bangladesh, health officials have said.
calendar icon 23 August 2010
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"Some 89 residents in Sirajganj district, 134 km northwest of capital Dhaka, are suspected to be affected with anthrax after they consumed beef from infected cows," Ramiz Uddin Ahmed, programme officer of the district's civil surgeon office, told .

Twenty-three additional people in the neighbouring Pabna district, 216 km west of capital Dhaka, are also undergoing treatment. KM Ashrafuzzaman, civil surgeon of Pabna, said that preliminary tests showed that these people may also have been infected with anthrax.

About four days ago some residents of a village in Sirajganj came to the hospital with anthrax symptoms. "We sent health officials to the village and found more people having the similar symptoms," he said.

All of them are responding to treatments and now recovering, he added.

Infected people informed the health officials that they have consumed meat of domestic animals which were slaughtered after falling ill on different occasions in different villages of the districts since the end of the last month, both the officials said.

They said health officials including doctors are camping in those villages and treating the patients at their homes. Medicine is being distributed free of charge among the infected people, they added.

The officials said blood samples of the patients have been sent to the country's Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) in capital Dhaka for testing.

A senior IEDCR official said, "We've to wait another few days to get results of blood samples back, which will confirm whether these people are really infected with anthrax or not.

Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis. Infection in humans most often involves the skin, the gastrointestinal tract or the lungs.

Anthrax commonly affects hoofed animals such as sheep and goats, but humans who come into contact with the infected animals can get ill from anthrax, too.

However, Bangladesh's Directorate of Livestock Services said the containment measures are already under way. "Hundreds of livestock in the districts have already been vaccinated," Abdul Bakir, a director of the Livestock Services, said.

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