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Guidelines for the Surveillance and Control of Anthrax in Humans and Animals, Third Edition

NCJ Number
P. C. B. Turnbull
Date Published
119 pages
This document focuses on the effects of anthrax on animals and humans.
Anthrax is enzootic in most countries of Africa and Asia, a number of European countries, countries/areas of the American continent, and certain areas of Australia. It is one of the foremost causes of uncontrolled mortality in cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and pigs worldwide. Humans almost invariably contract anthrax directly or indirectly from animals. Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by the spore-forming Bacillus anthracis, a Gram positive, rod-shaped bacterium. Except when taken up by the pulmonary route, B. anthracis needs a lesion through which to enter the body. The spores, which may have commenced germination, are carried to the lymphatics where they multiply and continuously feed the blood stream with the vegetative bacilli in a manner similar to continuous culture. Circumstantial evidence indicates that humans are moderately resistant to anthrax. Cutaneous anthrax is said to account for 95 percent or more of human cases globally. The incubation period ranges from as little as 9 hours to 2 weeks, mostly 2 to 6 or 7 days. Prompt and timely antibiotic therapy usually results in dramatic recovery of the individual or animal infected with anthrax. Protection against anthrax in the susceptible host is dependent almost entirely on that host’s immune response to a single antigen. The primary use of the human vaccines is for persons in at-risk occupations, particularly in industries concerned with processing of animal products from endemic regions. Public health surveillance of anthrax in humans includes identifying the characteristics of the disease, formulating prevention programs, monitoring incident of the disease, detecting outbreaks, and ensuring regular feedback of information. The local level is the first point of official contact with the infected patient and the point at which surveillance data should be first collected. Suspected rather than confirmed cases may be reported from this level to higher levels. Figures, appendices