In a follow-up to the report of a anthrax death in Varna District, Bulgaria Saturday, the Bulgarian News Agency reports that at least four men have been arrested, acquaintances of the dead man, for selling infected meat and parts from the animal’s carcass to several establishments.
Varna Deputy Regional Governor Tsvetomir Petrov after a meeting of the crisis task force late Wednesday said twenty-three businesses suspected of using anthrax-laced meat have been shutdown.
The facilities processed the tainted meat and samples from the equipment and counter tops at one meat processing shop in Varna have tested positive for anthrax. The meat has been ground and put into meatballs, sausages and other ground meat products.
There is now concern of secondary contamination on other meats from the shop.
The infected meat was reportedly sold around Provadia, Karnobat and Varna and the carcass was dumped in Mlada Gvardia.
Anthrax occurs in three forms in humans:
Cutaneous anthrax is the most common form of the disease. People with cuts or open sores can get cutaneous anthrax if they come in direct contact with the bacteria or its spores, usually through contaminated animal products. The skin will redden and swell, much like an insect bite, and then develop a painless blackened lesion or ulcer that may form a brown or black scab, which is actually dead tissue. Cutaneous anthrax responds well to antibiotics but may spread throughout the body if untreated. People who work with certain animals or animal carcasses are at risk of getting this form of the disease.
When a person inhales the spores of Bacillus anthracis, they germinate and the bacteria infect the lungs, spreading to the lymph nodes in the chest. As the bacteria grow, they produce two kinds of deadly toxins.
Symptoms usually appear 1 to 7 days after exposure, but they may first appear more than a month later. Fever, nausea, vomiting, aches, and fatigue are among the early symptoms of inhalational anthrax; it progresses to labored breathing, shock, and often death.
Historically, the mortality rate for naturally occurring inhalational anthrax has been 75 percent, even with appropriate treatment. Inhalational anthrax is rare.
People can get gastrointestinal anthrax from eating meat contaminated with anthrax bacteria or their spores. Symptoms are stomach pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and fever. Antibiotic treatment can cure this form of anthrax, but left untreated, it may kill half of those who get it.