At least five men from Kodipunjuvalasa of Araku Valley Mandal in Visakhapatnam district in the state of Andhra Pradesh have contracted confirmed cutaneous anthrax, according to Indian media.

Cutaneous anthrax lesion /CDC
Cutaneous anthrax lesion /CDC

The five patients were admitted to the hospital and treated Sunday with boils that developed on their hands and fingers.

It is reported that they consumed the meat of a goat 20 days ago.  It is possible that the meat was not properly cooked and the goat was infected with the anthrax bacterium.

The district has switched to “emergency mode” to contain the spread of anthrax.

Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax can be found naturally in soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world. Although it is rare, people can get sick with anthrax if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products

Cutaneous  anthrax occurs when the spore (or possibly the bacterium) enters a cut or abrasion on the skin. It starts out as a raised bump that looks like an insect bite. It then develops into a blackened lesion called an eschar that may form a scab. Lymph glands in the area may swell plus edema may be present. This form of anthrax responds well to antibiotics. If untreated, deaths can occur if the infection goes systemic. 95% of cases of anthrax are cutaneous.

Related: Anthrax: An interview with Dr Buddy Faries

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