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Anthrax: twelve-year-old child dies of anthrax

Anthrax: twelve-year-old child dies of anthrax



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First outbreak in decades: twelve-year-old dies of anthrax
In the far north of Russia, according to media reports, there was an outbreak of anthrax for the first time in 75 years. A twelve-year-old boy had died. In Germany, two years ago, warnings were given to eat sausages and corned beef suspected of being contaminated with the highly toxic anthrax pathogen.

First outbreak of anthrax in 75 years
According to media reports, an outbreak of anthrax has been reported in northern Russia for the first time in 75 years. The authorities in Salekhard on the Arctic Circle announced that a twelve-year-old boy had died from the highly toxic anthrax pathogen and eight others were carrying it in any case. According to the information, a total of 72 people suspected of anthrax were hospitalized, including 41 children. The entire region is said to be in quarantine.

Danger especially for animals
The causative agents of the infectious disease anthrax are bacteria that many associate with biological warfare. Anthrax infections are generally rare in humans, but they pose a significant risk for cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle and sheep. In humans, three different types of anthrax are distinguished: cutaneous anthrax, pulmonary anthrax and intestinal anthrax. The former poses the least risk to those affected, but it can also be fatal.

Human-to-human transmission is considered unlikely
Pulmonary anthrax can occur when the anthrax spores get into the lungs and can spread here. The death rate for this type of anthrax is relatively high, and often the infected die of septic shock within a week. Consuming contaminated beef can in rare cases also cause an intestinal anthrax, which is accompanied by severe symptoms such as severe diarrhea, blood in the stool or vomiting bloody. In the worst case scenario, those affected may also be at risk of blood poisoning with organ failure. Anthrax infection is usually treated with antibiotics. Human-to-human transmission is considered unlikely.

Deadly spores were preserved in permafrost for a long time
According to the authorities, only reindeer herders and their animals have been carriers of the anthrax pathogen in the outbreak in Russia so far. Thousands of reindeer have been killed. Moscow experts have started vaccinating more than 40,000 animals. The region had been anthrax-free since 1941. Experts are now assuming that the unusually high temperatures that have prevailed for over a month have melted permafrost, in which the deadly spores have been preserved for more than a century.

Deaths in Germany
A historical cemetery is said to be a possible source of infection. The indigenous people living there traditionally bury their dead in wooden coffins that are not buried because of the permanently frozen soil. It is possible that thawing as a result of climate change causes pathogens of infected corpses to get into the drinking water and thus cause the infections. In Germany, the anthrax pathogen caused at least two deaths and three other infections four years ago. At the time, the pathogen, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), probably came to Germany from the UK in contaminated heroin. Such heroin had been in circulation in the drug scene there since 2009. In 2014, there was also a warning about anthrax pathogens in beef in Germany. (ad)

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