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Thirteen suspected cutaneous anthrax cases have been treated at a Visakhapatnam hospital in the past week and medical officials say the patients are all stable.

Cutaneous anthrax lesion/CDC
Cutaneous anthrax lesion/CDC

A spokesperson with King George Hospital said it was believed that the victims belonging to a local village, contracted the infection after reportedly eating the meat of a dead cow a week ago.

The Times of India reports medical and animal husbandry department officials will be taking necessary measures to control the disease, and counsel the villagers against eating such meat,” said medical superintendent of KGH Dr G Arjuna.

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: India ranks #1 globally in 11 neglected tropical diseases