The number of human anthrax cases in Bangladesh has jumped to 170 cases being reported in at least four districts, according to a Daily Sun report yesterday.


The report states 113 people were infected in Gangni upazila of Meherpur district while 20 others in Ullapara upazila and 13 in Raiganj upazila of Sirajganj district, 11 in Modhupur upazila of Tangail district and eight others in Araihazar upazila of Narayanganj district, sources said. 

The cases are mostly linked to the slaughter and consumption of anthrax infected cows. Vaccination of the animals are key to preventing these infections.

Massive livestock vaccination can reduce the burden of the disease both in animals and human,” said Prof Mahmudur Rahman, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).

The latest situation report, 15 Jul 2014, available from the IEDCR website shows a disturbing number of human cases, 139 since 1 Jan 2014.

Anthrax is a pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Some of the more common herbivores are cattle, sheep, goats, horses, camels and deer. Anthrax is a very serious disease of livestock because it can potentially cause the rapid loss of a large numberof animals in a very short time. Affected animals are often found dead with no illness detected.

It infects humans primarily through occupational or incidental exposure with infected animals of their skins.

Anthrax is caused by the bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. This spore forming bacteria can survive in the environment for years because of its ability to resist heat, cold, drying, etc.  This is usually the infectious stage of anthrax.

When conditions become favorable, the spores germinate into colonies of bacteria. An example would be a grazing cow ingests spores that in the cow, germinate, grow spread and eventually kill the animal.

The bacteria will form spores in the carcass and then return to the soil to infect other animals. The vegetative form is rarely implicated in transmission.

There are no reports of person-to-person transmission of anthrax. People get anthrax by handling contaminated animal or animal products, consuming undercooked meat of infected animals and more recently, intentional release of spores.

There are three types of human anthrax with differing degrees of seriousness: cutaneous, gastrointestinal and inhalation. For more infectious disease news and informationvisit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page