MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health has dispatched a team to investigate suspected anthrax cases in Abra.
The DOH said several suspected cases of cutaneous anthrax were reported in Lagangilang, Abra, during the last week of December 2012.
To date, 23 cases have been detected, all males and with age ranging from 2 to 52 years old.
“A DOH team is now assisting local officials in coordination with the Bureau of Animal Industry in the conduct of an outbreak investigation,” the agency said.
But no death was reported, it added.
Anthrax is endemic in the Philippines. It generally affects animals such as carabao (water buffalo).
The patients in Abra apparently showed signs and symptoms compatible with cutaneous anthrax. But the DOH still warned the pubic against eating contaminated meat, especially those from so-called “double-dead” animals.
“Dead animals should not be used as food source to eliminate risk from illnesses associated with sick animals, like anthrax,” the DOH said.
According to the DOH, cutaneous anthrax commonly occurs as a result of unsafe handling of dead animals that allow resilient anthrax spores to cause notable skin lesions via minor cuts in the exposed body surface.
“Humans become secondarily infected after exposure to diseased or deceased animals. Three forms of the disease may exist, namely cutaneous, inhalational and gastrointestinal depending upon the mode of transmission. Both inhalational and gastrointestinal forms of anthrax are rarely found,” the DOH explained.
“Those who develop skin lesions two to five days after handling deceased animals or contaminated flesh should seek medical advice,” the health department said.
Apart from skin lesions, other symptoms of anthrax virus include muscle pain and itchy skin, headache, fatigue, stomach pain, sore throat and dry cough, high-grade fever, difficulty in breathing and abnormal bleeding.
The DOH cited the importance of proper handling of carcass.
“In communities where animals die unexpectedly, proper handling of carcass with personal protective equipment is important,” it said.
It added that death of these animals should always be reported to proper authorities.
Likewise, the health department strongly recommended the vaccination of animals against anthrax.