Anthrax: animal vaccination needed, says expert

Vaccination of animals in the Visakha Agency might not have been done during the last many years leading to the spurt in cutaneous anthrax cases in the region, felt a senior dermatologist who has deeply studied the cases when anthrax cases were reported in large numbers during 2004.

“Vaccination of animals in the area from where the anthrax cases are reported is necessary to prevent the recurrence of cutaneous anthrax. Vaccination should be done at least once in two years covering all animals,” former HoD of Dermatology of King George Hospital and Andhra Medical College, G. Raghurama Rao, said after 35 suspected cutaneous anthrax cases were reported from Hukumpeta and G. Madugula mandals of Visakha Agency during last week. The cutaneous anthrax spores are in the soil and live for a long time in a dormant stage, even for decades, and enter an animal’s body while it is grazing or breathing. Humans contract cutaneous anthrax while eating uncooked meat or through cuts and abrasions in their hands while they cut the animal. Cutaneous anthrax is not life-threatening.

Dr. Raghurama Rao, who has treated patients at the KGH in the past when it turned out like an epidemic, recalled that as many as 12,000 heads of cattle and other animals were vaccinated by the Animal Husbandry Department within one month during that time. It seems vaccination of animals was not done later or improperly done in the Visakha Agency, he said. Apart from regular vaccination of animals in the area where anthrax cases were reported, it is also necessary to explain to the locals that dead cattle or other animals should not be eaten, he added.

Meanwhile, the 16 patients at KGH are recovering while results of tests done on all the 35 are awaited, Superintendent M. Madhusudhana Babu said.

“Should be

done at least once in two years covering all animals”

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