Anthrax disease became known to the world due to the use of the bacteria in bio-terrorist attacks. The anthrax disease treatment depends upon the type of anthrax that the person is suffering from. This article discusses all these aspects and treatment of anthrax disease.
Anthrax disease is a very serious illness, which can prove to be highly fatal if left untreated. It is a condition which is caused when a bacterium known as Bacillus anthracis, enters our body. This bacteria can be transmitted when in contact with infected animals and livestock. Anthrax isn’t a common form of illness in the United States of America, or other developed countries for that matter. It is most commonly found in the developing or underdeveloped countries or places that have a lot of livestock like horses, camels, sheep, goats, etc.
The bacteria is a large rod-shaped bacteria which can stay in a dormant state for decades all together in the form of spores. These spores, when entered inside humans or animals, can give these bacteria an ideal environment to flourish on, thereby making them active and spreading the infection. Normally, anthrax disease is contagious and is contracted through exposure of the spores through sick and infected animals.
It is hardly known that the bacteria has been contracted between humans. The spores of the bacteria have been used in bio-terrorist attacks in the past few years wherein it also lead to deaths of many people. But the good news is that if one identifies the symptoms of anthrax at an early stage, the disease can be easily cured through various antibiotics.
Anthrax Disease Symptoms
Anthrax symptoms can be confused with some of the common ailments that we experience on a regular basis in our day-to-day lives. These symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of cold and flu and may vary depending upon the kind of anthrax that you are suffering from. Which is why you may think that what you are suffering from is normal everyday ailment, wherein it could be something serious as anthrax disease. There are three types of anthrax diseases. They are discussed as follows along with their respective symptoms.
Cutaneous Anthrax Disease
When the bacteria enters your body through a wound or a cut on your body, it comes under this case. This is usually the most common form of anthrax that is observed and also the most treatable one. The symptoms of cutaneous anthrax are mentioned as follows.
- Raised bump
- Itchiness on the bump
- Swollen lymph glands around the raised bump
- These bumps have a black bump in between and they are usually painless
Gastrointestinal Anthrax Disease
As the name suggests, this kind of anthrax occurs when the bacteria enters your body due to consumption of raw or undercooked meat of the infected animal. Which is why you must always eat meat that is completely cooked. The symptoms for the same include the following.
- Loss of appetite
- Soreness in the throat
- Swelling in the neck
- Difficulty to swallow
Pulmonary Anthrax Disease
The third kind of anthrax disease is the one that is contracted by inhaling the spores of the bacteria that commonly get spread all the way to the respiratory tract. This is considered to be the most severe form of anthrax disease and the treatment is also less successful. The symptoms for pulmonary anthrax are mentioned as follows.
- Muscle aches
- Mild fever
- Sore throat
After going through these symptoms you might have noticed that they are very common in nature and can be easily confused with common health conditions that we suffer from in our daily life. This is the main reason why the diagnosis for the same is delayed, making the condition all the more worse. In fact, the severe stage of this condition can cause some fatal consequences and symptoms like breathing problems, high fever, shock, and inflammation of the spinal cord and brain, known as meningitis, which is supposed to be a very fatal condition.
Treatment and Cures for Anthrax Disease
If you are a resident of a well-developed country like the United States, there are less chances that your symptoms would be linked to anthrax unless you have been in an environment wherein you got a chance to contact farm animals like horses, camels, sheep, goats, etc, or if you have stayed in an area where anthrax is a common ailment. If you think that your symptoms can be associated with anthrax, then get in touch with your healthcare specialist as soon as possible before the infection spreads to a great extent.
Anthrax disease treatment is available in the form of drugs and vaccination. The treatment however, will depend upon the type of anthrax that you have, and the signs and symptoms that are bothering you. Your healthcare specialist will conduct various tests like tissue testing, blood tests, stool tests, chest X-rays, CT scans, and spinal taps. All these tests will be done to confirm the presence of Bacillus anthracis in the body and to determine the extent of infection spread in the body. Once the condition has been confirmed, the following treatment options are considered.
Antibiotics are the most used and most trusted treatment option when it comes to treating anthrax disease. However, they prove to be more beneficial when started at an early stage of infection. In fact, it is also safe to take antibiotics beforehand to save yourself from contracting this infection. The kind and combination of various antibiotics, depends upon your individual case and symptoms. However, mentioned below are some of the common antibiotics used to destroy the bacteria causing anthrax diseases.
Antibiotics are known to be 99% successful when it comes to treating cutaneous anthrax at an early stage. Even if cutaneous anthrax is diagnosed a little later, the success rate of treatment is considered to be almost 80%. The course of antibiotics for treating this condition is usually 60 days. But, if the diagnosis is done at a later stage, or if the infection is way too severe, then the chances for treating the condition with antibiotics are really less. This is the reason why pulmonary anthrax disease is considered to be a medical emergency.
Another prevention option of safeguarding yourself from this disease is vaccination. Although, vaccination is not open to general public! Vaccination is only used for people who are likely to get exposed to the infection like military personnel posted in countries like Africa or otherwise, people who deal with animal products or hides that are imported from areas exposed to anthrax, or people who have been exposed to the bio-terrorist attack.
Severe cases may be required to treat with intravenous fluids, additional oxygen supply, ventilator support, and constant monitoring and nursing care while admitted in the hospital.
I hope this article helped you gain an insight into the condition, and realize that how important it is to identify the symptoms before it is too late. In fact, most of the deaths that have resulted due to this condition, were because its symptoms were confused with those of the cold and flu, and by the time these individual went to the doctor, it was late! This is why the success rate of treating pulmonary anthrax is only 25%. On the other hand, gastrointestinal anthrax disease has a 40% to 75% chances of treatment. So, when you are in doubt, make sure that you visit your healthcare specialist as soon as possible.