Anthrax – Sierra Leone

May 23, 2022 – Three cases of human anthrax have been reported in the Karene District, Sierra Leone. This occurred shortly after an outbreak was discovered amongst animals. Originally, four cases were detected and sent in for laboratory analysis. Three of the four samples tested positive for anthrax. According to the source, it is likely that the anthrax infection had originated from exposure to infected animals as it is likely to spread from human to human. All cases were cutaneous anthrax and the other two types were inhalation anthrax and gastrointestinal anthrax.

Photo: Bacillus anthracis from an agar culture with spores (blue).

Anthrax is an infection caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It can occur in four forms: skin, lungs, intestinal, and injection. Anthrax is spread by contact with the bacterium’s spores, which often appear in infectious animal products.

The skin form presents with a small blister with surrounding swelling that often turns into a painless ulcer with a black center.

The inhalation form presents with fever, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

The intestinal form presents with diarrhea which may contain blood, abdominal pains, nausea, and vomiting.

The injection form presents with fever and an abscess at the site of drug injection.

Human anthrax is most common in Africa and central and southern Asia, though it can occur anywhere. Skin infections represent more than 95% of cases.

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