A worrying anthrax outbreak in Makassar, Indonesia, has infected at least five people working in a slaughterhouse, an official stated, reports Jakarta Post .
The human infections came to light after official confirmation that about 30 cows and water buffaloes in Tamangapa subdistrict have died of anthrax recently.
The local health office earlier did medical checks on the five persons after it was discovered that the cattle they had slaughtered were infected with the often deadly anthrax bacterium, said chief of Tamangapa subdistrict, Maryati.
The medical examinations later showed that the five were suffering from skin infections, very likely consistent with cutaneous anthrax. About 20 percent of untreated human cases of this type of anthrax are fatal. They also had lumps on their skin with black crust surrounding the lumps.
"The symptoms are different from other skin diseases and from this, we strongly believe they have been infected with anthrax," said Maryati, adding that they would wait for confirmation from the lab in Maros regency.
One of the five has been admitted to a hospital in Makassar city after the lymph glands in his upper neck began to swell and he developed a fever. Meanwhile, medicine has been given to the other four.
An official said the government had dispatched a team to stop the spread of anthrax by killing some cows and water buffaloes that likely were infected and vaccinating others. The vaccination was given to healthy cattle. The water buffalo and cow population in Tamangapa subdistrict has been estimated to be least 500. Meanwhile, the slaughterhouse in the subdistrict has also been sprayed with disinfectant to prevent anthrax from spreading to healthy animals.
In response to the outbreak, the South Sulawesi provincial administration has prohibited farmers from taking water buffaloes and cows out of the subdistrict. Similarly, animals from other areas have also been barred from entering the subdistrict to prevent them from being infected. A similar ban has also been imposed by the East Kalimantan government.
The last anthrax outbreak in the province was in the 1980s, affecting Bulukumba, Bone and Palopo regencies.