This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Introduction A "Gram positive" bacterium means it has the type of cell walls which are harmless, unlike the cell walls of "Gram negative" bacteia, which attack tissue. Therefore, anthrax can only attack tissue by producing a special toxin that it excretes. A few cells or spores do not produce enough toxin to start an infection. Studies have apparently determined that, typically, Dr kedar karki. ten thousand anthrax spores must be inhaled to start an infection. Anthrax normally attacks the lungs, because (M.V.St. Preventive Medicine) it must lodge in vulnerable tissue. Transmission Naturally occurring anthrax is a disease acquired following contact with anthrax-infected animals or anthrax-contaminated animal products. Infection gains entrance in the body by ingestion, inhalation or through the skin. The disease most commonly occurs in herbivores, which are infected by ingesting spores from the soil. Biting flies and other insects have often been found to harbour anthrax organisms but the transmission is mechanical only. Anthrax in Humans Anthrax infection can occur in three forms: cutaneous (skin), inhalation and gastrointestinal. The clinical picture varies depending on how the disease was contracted, but symptoms usually occur within seven days. CUTANEOUS ANTHEAX: The bacterium enters a cut or abrasion on the skin, the infection begins as a papule resembling an insect bite but within 12 days develops into a vesicle and then a painless ulcer, usually 1-3 cm in diameter, with a characteristic blank necrotic area in the centre. Lymph glands in the adjacent area may swell. Deaths are rare with appropriate antimicrobial therapy. INHALATION ANTHRAX: After initial respiratory trouble, the symptoms may progress to severe breathing problems and shock. Inhalation anthrax usually results in death in 1-2 days after onset of the acute symptoms. On entry of the spores, macrophages try to engulf many of them. Surviving spores are transported via lymphatica to mediastinal lymph nodes, where germination may occur up to 60 days later. The process responsible for the delayed transformation of spores to vegetative cells is poorly understood but well documented. The toxins are released by the colonizing bacteria leading to haemorrhage, oedema, and necrosis. Production of the anthrax toxin is mediated by a temperature-sensitive plasmid. The toxin consists of three distinct antigenic components. They are-the oedema factor, which is necessary for the oedema producing activity of the toxin: Factor-II is the protective antigen (PA), because it induces protective antitoxic antibodies in guinea pigs: Factor-III is known as the lethal factor because it is essential for the lethal effects of the anthrax toxin. Once toxin production has reached critical threshold, death occurs even if sterility of the
bloodstream is achieved with antibiotics. Based on primate data, it has been estimated that for humans the LD 50 (lethal dose sufficient to kill 50% of persons exposed to it) is 2500 to 55,000 inhaled anthrax spores. GASTROINTESTINAL ANTHRAX: This is analogous to cutaneous anthrax but occurs on the intestinal mucosa. As in cutaneous anthrax, the organisms probably invade the mucosa through a pre-existing lesion. The bacteria spread from the mucosal lesion to the lymphatic system. Intestinal anthrax results from the ingestion of poorly cooked meat from infected animals. Intestinal anthrax, although extremely rare in developed countries, has an extremely high mortality rate. Meningitis due to B. anthracis is a very rare complication that may result from a primary infection elsewhere. EPIDEMIOLOGY Anthrax is worldwide in distribution although the incidence varies with the soil, climate and the efforts put forward to suppress it. The characteristic epidemiology of anthrax in developed countries shows the simultaneous occurrence of multicentric foci of infection. In many areas where the disease has not been recorded in last few years or eve for a few decades, many sudden deaths occur without observed illness under favourable climatic conditions. In tropical and subtropical countries with high annual rainfall the infection persists in the soil and frequent anthrax outbreaks are commonly encountered. In some African countries the disease occurs every summer and reaches its peak severity in years with heavy rainfall. Wild fauna, including hippos, elephants etc. die in large numbers. It is probable that the predators act as inert carriers of the infection. Large anthrax epizootics in herbivores have been reported: during a 1945 outbreak in Iran, one million sheep died. Animal vaccination programs have reduced drastically the animal mortality from the disease. However, anthrax spores continue to be documented in soil samples from throughout the world. Anthrax is most common in agricultural regions where it occurs in animals. These include South and Central America, Southern and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. When anthrax affects humans, it is usually due to an occupational exposure to infected animals or their products. Workers who are exposed to dead animals and animal products (industrial anthrax) from other countries where anthrax is more common may become infected with B. anthracis. Anthrax in animal infection are received from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Dakota. ANTHRAX AS A BIOLOGICAL WEAPON The recent publicity surrounding the cases of anthrax in the USA has caused alarm among the general public about the potential terrorist use of biological warfare. Some other pathogens, identified in Western defense circles among the top 10 biological agents, are highly infectious. These, such as
smallpox and plague, are highly dangerous if used as weapons since, once released, they risk potentially becoming a global problem and can find their way back into the perpetrators' camp. Anthrax is a preferred biological warfare agent because it is highly lethal. One hundred million lethal doses could be prepared per gram of anthrax material (100,000 times deadlier than the deadliest chemical warfare agent). Inhalational anthrax is virtually always fatal with heavy inhalation and late diagnosis. There are low barriers to production low cost of producing the anthrax material and simpler technology. The knowledge is widely available and it is easy to produce in large quantities. It is easy to weaponize. It is extremely stable and can be stored almost indefinitely as a dry powder. It can be loaded, in a freeze-dried condition, in munitions or disseminated as an aerosol with crude sprayers. However, others opine that anthrax will never be used successfully as a terrorist weapon, and probably never as a military weapon. It has to be converted to spores suspended in the air, which is technically very difficult; and the lethality is nowhere near the terror that it is made out to be. It is not 100% lethal as often claimed. Wool-sorters inhale anthrax spores in small quantities continually (150-700 per hour), and only if they get a large dose, dose an infection begin. Studies have apparently determined that, typically, ten thousand anthrax spores must be inhaled to start an infection. Hence, sending anthrax spores in powder form by post appears to be a weapon for spreading fear rather than killing the population. Anthrax figured in every known bio-arsenal of the last century, including those of Britain, the USA, Japan, the Soviet Union and Iraq. However, no one ever used them in battle, although Japan did conduct tests on humans. Britain infected a Scottish inland, Gruinard, while testing anthrax weapons, and only succeeded in cleaning it up with massive formalin treatments decades later. No successful terrorist use of anthrax is known, unless that was the intent in the USA - in which case, it was the first to work. The Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan tried spraying anthrax, but used only a harmless, vaccine strain, either by mistake, or for a trial run. Foul play has long been suspected, but never proved, in an economically devastating outbreak of anthrax in Zimbabwe in 1979 which helped tip the political balance. The Soviet Union had anthrax missiles shells and cluster bombs, antibiotic and vaccine resistant strains, highly infectious strains, and recipes for reliable aerosols. The largest release of anthrax spores was an accidental one. In Sverdlovsk, Russia in April 1979, 68 people died after a small amount of anthrax powder was released through the ventilation system of a nearby secret military base. Like every other known bioweapons state in the world, Russia is supposed to have destroyed its stocks. Although a vaccine for anthrax exists, it is used almost exclusively on American military personnel. People who work with the bacteria in laboratories, people who handle furs, hides, and other products from overseas are also vaccinated.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.