A suspected anthrax outbreak in the Black Sea coast city of Trabzon, in northeastern Turkey has affected 73 people, killing one, according to the Turkish news source, Hurriyet Daily News.

A anthrax-tainted cow was butchered in the city’s Akçabat district and the meat was distributed to neighbors.

Image/ErikaWittlieb via pixabay
Image/ErikaWittlieb via pixabay

The Trabzon Governor’s Office said an investigation was launched into the incident.

“Nothing is clear yet. There are suspicions that there could be anthrax infection. The results of the lab examinations have not come out yet”, according to Akçabat district governor, Soner Şenel.

Anthrax is a bacterial 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 lossof a large number of animals in a very short time. Affected animals are often found dead with no illness detected.

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

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 eventuallykill the animal. Anthrax is caused by the bacteriumBacillus 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.

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: cutaneousgastrointestinal and inhalation.