Anthrax has created quite a scare in Europe. At least five individuals have been hospitalized in Hungary since its discovery in beef in the eastern part of country. The patients are currently being monitored in the hospital for suspected symptoms of the disease.
Anthrax is caused by Bacillus anthracis, bacterial spores that commonly live in soil around the globe and is often spread to beef through illegal slaughtering. The spores can exist for an extremely long duration and even remain at locations of animals killed by the virus for decades after they expire. Normally, Anthrax infects herbivorous animals that inhale or consume the spores while grazing. The diseased mammals can then transfer the virus to the humans who eat their meat.
Authorities stated that the deadly virus was detected in samples from two animals that had been butchered illegally. The meat was cut up and frozen improperly in Tiszafured, a town located near Budapest. Officials also mentioned that the disease, if identified in time, can be effectively cured with antibiotics.
The beef was then transported to an organization that operates hotels and restaurants. The company’s kitchen was closed after anthrax was discovered, the National Public Health and Medical Officer Service relayed to the Associated Press.
There is no pressing risk of anthrax spreading, and all of the animals in the region that might have been exposed are presently being vaccinated. Although the disease has been contained, the outbreak of anthrax initially scared many people near the area of contamination and five people were hospitalized in Hungary as a result.
On June 13, scientists at the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) realized that they had given live samples of anthrax to researchers at laboratories with lower security instead of harmless samples of the virus. A spokeswoman for the CDC stated that 86 people were possibly exposed but luckily no illness thus far has been reported.
The CDC places anthrax as a “Category A” agent, a disease that poses the greatest possible threat for a large negative impact on public health. In addition, it is an illness that could spread across a large region or need public awareness and also requires planning to protect the public’s health.
Anthrax, although found in soil, has been used as a biological weapon since World War I. There are three types of an anthrax infection: through the skin (cutaneous), through the lungs (inhalation), and through digestion (gastrointestinal). A fourth type has also been identified as injection anthrax, which is frequently used with heroin addicts in the northern parts of Europe.
Exposure to anthrax, whether in small or large amounts, can generate an immense scare to those near the outbreak, and especially concerned the five people who were hospitalized in Hungary. The disease, if not contained early on, can spread rapidly and cause a massive number of illnesses in a short period of time. Fortunately enough, the five individuals who were hospitalized are being monitored and treated with antibiotics for their symptoms and should hopefully recover quickly.
By Amy Nelson