ANTHRAX - Watsons Health

ANTHRAX

Anthrax is a life threatening disease that mostly affects animals such as cattle, sheep and goats rather than humans. It is caused by a germ Bacillus Anthracis that lives in soil. It is spread to humans by their contact with the infected animals, wools, meat or hides. It is not considered to be contagious since it does not spread from person to person. However, the diseases it can cause on someone’s skin, lung, and bowel can be deadly.

Antibiotics often treated anthrax.

There are four forms of disease caused by anthrax:

  • Cutaneous anthraxaffects the skin. The illness usually resolves in about six weeks. Deaths may occur if patients do not receive appropriate antibiotics.

Symptoms: muscle aches and pain, headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

  • Injection anthraxa new form of anthrax that has been identified in heroin-injecting drug users in northern Europe.

Symptoms: small blisters or bumps that may itch at the injection site, fever and chills, swelling around the sores, and deep abscesses may develop under the skin or muscle. Painless skin sores with black centers (dark scabs) may appear after the blisters or bumps develop.

  • Inhalation anthrax- affects the lungs.

Symptoms: subtle, gradual and flu-like (influenza) with a sore throat and headaches. In a few days, however, the illness worsens and there may be severe respiratory distress with shortness of breath and pain in the chest and/or muscles. Some patients may begin coughing up blood. Shock, coma, and death follow.

  • Gastrointestinal anthrax- affects the digestive tract and caused by eating infected meat.

Symptoms: nausea, loss of appetite, bloody diarrhea and fever followed by abdominal pain.

DIAGNOSIS

To diagnose anthrax, the doctor may ask for the person’s history including his/her occupation. Some test that may help to diagnose anthrax may include:

  • Cultures or Smears tests
  • Throat Swabs
  • Blood Test

 

TREATMENT

Antibiotics are the main treatment for this disease. This may include:

  • Penicillin
  • Tetracycline
  • Erythromycin
  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • Doxycycline (Doryx, Oracea, Monodox)
  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin, Quixin, Iquix)
  • Parenteral Procaine Penicillin G.

 

PREVENTION

Taking antibiotics after exposure may greatly help in preventing this disease. Anthrax vaccines are available; however it is still not open for the general public. It is usually issued to children or elderly with high risk of exposure to the disease.

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