By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Officials in North China’s Shanxi Province are reporting nine suspected human anthrax cases in villagers from Wenshui County, according to state media.

Bacillus anthracis bacteria using Gram-stain technique
Anthrax bacterium/CDC

All of the patients were involved in the cattle industry, from breeding, to slaughter and beef sales. They presented with papules on limbs, which then turned into blisters and ulcerations. They also developed symptoms of edema and swollen lymph nodes, the report notes.

Four of the patients were taken to the provincial capital of Taiyuan for treatment and two have since been discharged.

The five other patients were being treated in the village hospital.

China: Human anthrax case reported in Beijing

Anthrax is a bacterial pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Ruminants such as bison, cattle, sheep and goats are highly susceptible, and horses can also be infected.

Anthrax is a very serious disease of livestock because it can potentially cause the rapid loss of a large number of animals in a very short time. Affected animals are often found dead with no illness detected.

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

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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.