As Anthrax Spreads, Bangladesh is on Alert
Health officials confirmed that Bangladesh has put livestock and officials on high alert after an outbreak of anthrax spread to more districts, infecting 327 people since mid-August.
The livestock minister suspended all leave and sent teams to the affected districts, department deputy director Mosaddek Hossain said.
The move comes after health officials confirmed that anthrax has infected people in two more districts in the country's north and east, taking the tally to five districts. Outbreaks in two more districts await confirmation.
"This is the biggest outbreak of anthrax in the country's history. We are very concerned. The government has set up surveillance teams in all the affected areas so that the disease cannot spread to other places," Hossain said.
Scores of cows have died in the outbreak, causing panic among farmers.
The situation has been aggravated by eating and handling of diseased cows by farmers, he said.
Anthrax is a potentially lethal bacterium that exists naturally in the soil and commonly infects livestock which ingest or inhale its spores while grazing. It can be transmitted to humans who handle or eat infected animals.
Mahmudur Rahman, a director of health ministry, said 327 people have been infected with the disease since August 18. All the cases are cutaneous, or skin, anthrax which causes wound-like lesions.
"We are battling hard to contain the disease. Still, we are receiving reports of new infections in almost every day," he said.