Anthrax and Australian Veterinary Emergency Essay

Submitted By ellynielsen
Words: 2314
Pages: 10

First discovered in 1875 by German scientist Robert Koch (Defence Journal, 1999-2012, Wikipedia, 2001), Anthrax is a disease that has had a significant impact throughout the world from as early as biblical times (CNN Health, 2012) (Slide 2). Anthrax is a potentially fatal bacterial disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. Predominantly found in herbivores, sheep, cattle and most grazing animals, Anthrax can also be transmitted to humans. The disease comes in three forms each with its own symptoms and mortality rates and is transmitted by spores. Cutaneous Anthrax, the most common form of Anthrax, is contracted when a cut, scrape or open wound makes contact with the bacteria Bacillus anthracis, which usually come from being in contact with animal hides or hair, bone products, and wool, or with infected animals (PubMed, 2011., 2012) (Slide 3). Gastrointestinal Anthrax is contracted when infected meat is ingested and Pulmonary Anthrax is transmitted by the inhalation of Anthrax spores which can happen during processes such as tanning animal hides and processing wool (PubMed, 2011., 2012) (Slide 4). The ingestion of infected meat or inhalation of the bacterial spores does not necessitate the contraction of Anthrax (PubMed, 2011., 2012) (Slide 5).
Symptoms of the disease vary depending on the form of Anthrax contracted. Symptoms of the form of Cutaneous Anthrax appear from one to seven days after contraction, a red-brown spot forms, similar to an insect bite. Blistering and hardening may then occur forming a black crater shaped ulcer called an eschar which is usually painless but surrounded by swelling. A scab often forms and falls off within two weeks. Other symptoms can include muscle aches and pain, headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and swelling. The illness usually resolves in about six weeks, but Meningitis and death may occur if patients do not receive appropriate antibiotics (PubMed, 2011., 2012) (Slide 6). Gastrointestinal anthrax symptoms can present themselves within a week of ingestion and can include; nausea and vomiting (possibly containing blood), loss of appetite abdominal pain, bloody diarrhoea, mouth sores, fever, swelling. Without treatment the bacteria in the bowel can spread throughout the body through the blood stream causing Sepsis or Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS), Meningitis and almost certainly death (PubMed, 2011., 2012) (Slide 7). When Pulmonary Anthrax is contracted, usually taking from one to six days for symptoms to appear, symptoms are gradual and flu like which is why the infection is usually not recognised until the individual’s condition has considerably worsened which is what causes such high mortality rates for Pulmonary Anthrax. Individual can become feverish; feel malaise, headaches, chest pain, coughing and shortness of breath. Within the lungs the bacteria infects the lymph nodes which causes severe haemorrhage and tissue death (necrosis) spreading from there to the rest of the body. If not treated immediately severe respiratory distress may occur along with Shock, Meningitis, coma and death. Even with appropriate antibiotics most affected individuals will still die as the antibiotics kill the present bacteria but cannot contain the deadly toxins that have already been released into the bloodstream by the Anthrax bacteria (PubMed, 2011., 2012) (Slide 8).
Cutaneous Anthrax can be treated with several common antibiotics such as penicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin, and ciprofloxin which are reasonably inexpensive and would not impact financially in the long term. Pulmonary and Gastrointestinal Anthrax require IV therapy along with antibiotics; this can be considerably more expensive, up to hundreds of dollars, or more if receiving treatment in hospital (, 2012). Once full recovery has been made no long term effects are present, physically, socially or