China battles with Anthrax as well as Swine flu

The state media in China has reported that in the northeast of the country anthrax has killed one person and infected 12 more.

This is the latest animal-borne disease to hit the country, which is still battling to contain the recent outbreak of swine flu.

Anthrax is a disease caused by spore-forming bacteria and is normally contracted through contact with infected livestock.

According to the Xinhua news agency, the disease first appeared on July 29 in Liaoning province.

Up to last Friday, no new cases had been reported in the town of Damintun for five consecutive days, and life has apparently returned to normal.

The anthrax spores thrive in soil and grazing livestock such as cattle, goats and sheep, then ingest anthrax spores when they are feeding.

To date the infections have been isolated to Damintun and two surrounding villages, and the eleven victims treated in hospital are recovering.

The agency says that livestock in the affected areas has been inoculated with anti-anthrax vaccine or culled and safely buried, and local officials have carefully checked all local meat sales points and banned people from bringing sick animals to markets.

As with the outbreak of the so- called swine flu, that has killed at least 39 people in southwestern China, all the victims in Damintun were infected through slaughtering, handling or eating infected cows.

Xinhua says that one new death and two more infections of the swine-borne bacteria streptococcus suis were reported on Saturday in Sichuan province, but China is repeatedly insisting that the disease is under control.

The outbreak of the pig disease in the country's top pork-producing province was first reported in June but did not surface in the Chinese media until almost a month later.

So far it seems nearly 650 pigs have died from the bacteria, and Sichuan has been forced to suspend all exports of chilled and frozen pork from hard-hit areas to Hong Kong.

Many Chinese cities have set up tight screens to block shipments of pigs or pork from the region.

The Chinese media insists that there have been no cases of anthrax or swine flu passing from human to human.

In 2001 five people died in the United States after handling letters containing anthrax. The cases remain unsolved to this day.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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