An anthrax outbreak that has been responsible for the deaths of at least seven people has caused health officials to quarantine a village, according to a BioPrep Watch report Thursday.
A team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed an anthrax outbreak in Kuruchdega village, Simdega, Jharkhand based on earlier RIMS pathological test reports and on-the-spot findings.
“This is probably India’s biggest outbreak in terms of casualties in recent years”, Shah Hussain with the NCDC said.
Reliable sources said about 16 days back, villagers of Karuchdaga of Bano had processed the carcass of a cow and later consumed it.
The outbreak also resulted in the lynching of a “village quack” according to one report. The Hindustan Times reported 54-year-old quack, Lawrence Burding, was treating some more villagers exhibiting symptoms of anthrax with magic and forest herbs, which of course didn’t work, and was lynched.
Anthrax is a pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Some of the more common herbivores are cattle, sheep, goats, horses, camels and deers. Anthrax is a very serious disease oflivestock because it can potentially cause the rapid loss of a large number of animals in a very shorttime. 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. Strict enforcement of quarantines and proper burning and burying of carcasses from livestock suspected to have died from anthrax is important to prevent further soil contamination with the bacterial spores.
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 information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page