Do you live in an area with a risk of anthrax? Scientists warn that nearly 2 billion people are staying in places that could be exposed to an outbreak
- Up to 1.83 billion people around the world can be exposed to Bacillus anthracis
- The bacteria behind anthrax lurk in the ground of every inhabited continent
- Animals eat spore-affected soil and pass on the infection to people in their meat
Billions of people live in areas where they run the risk of being exposed to anthrax, research suggests.
The bacteria behind the killer infection lurks in the bottom of every inhabited continent, with spores being absorbed by grazing cattle.
Scientists used existing data to calculate that up to 1.83 billion could be exposed worldwide to the bacteria behind the infection.
Handling or eating contaminated meat can spread the infection to people, which can lead to brain inflammation and life-threatening bleeding.
Map shows the spread of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which is behind the anthrax disease. Areas with higher levels of the pathogen in their soil are more at risk of an outbreak
The research was conducted by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center in Annapolis, Maryland.
B. anthracis & worldwide distribution is poorly understood. Dozens of countries have insufficient surveillance systems, even in endemic regions.
To find out how prevalent the bacterium is, the researchers analyzed global data on the infection in people, cattle and other animals in 70 countries.
They looked at records collected by scientists, national surveillance data and online statistics. This was then extrapolated to predict how many people are at risk.
The results showed that an estimated 1.83 billion people live in regions with a risk of anthrax outbreak. The & # 39; vast majority & # 39; lives in the countryside in Africa, Europe and Asia.
HOW IS ANTHRAX USED IN BIOTERROISM?
Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria behind anthrax, is considered to be one of the biggest threats in bioterroism.
The spores can be inhaled, ingested or spread through skin-to-skin contact.
They are hardy, easily available in the soil of every inhabited continent and can be produced in a laboratory.
The spores are also microscopic, which means they can be hidden in powders, sprays, food and water without being seen, smelled or tasted.
Anthrax has been used worldwide as a weapon for almost a century.
In the week after 9/11 traces were hidden in letters in a powder.
Twenty-two people, including 12 mail handlers, got anthrax and five died. The case has never been completely resolved.
B. anthracis is considered a Tier 1 agent because it & # 39; has the greatest risk of intentional abuse with significant potential for mass victims & # 39 ;.
The traces can be released in the air from a truck, building or aircraft.
This allows them to be blown around in the wind or worn on people's clothing.
Not many people have to breathe in the tracks for a widespread outbreak.
However, the researchers add that most people are not exposed to infected animals and are unlikely to come into contact with traces in the soil.
They therefore estimate that 63.8 million people are at real risk, mostly farmers who live in poor anthrax-endemic areas.
1.1 billion animals worldwide are at risk, including 320 million sheep, 294.9 million pigs, 268.1 million cattle, 211.2 million goats and 0.6 million buffalo.
Many of these animals are not vaccinated against anthrax, the researchers wrote in the journal Nature Microbiology.
Immunization rates range from 90% in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to slightly less than 1% in parts of Eastern and South Asia.
Jabs are often given after an outbreak instead of as a preventative measure.
But & # 39; proactive vaccination in under-vaccinated, hyperendemic countries can help control anthrax outbreaks, "the researchers wrote.
According to estimates, between 2,000 and 20,000 cases of anthrax occur worldwide every year, particularly in rural areas.
The risk of death varies depending on how the infection spreads. Most cases are spread through skin on skin, which is easier to treat, but spores can be inhaled.
Anthrax has also been used in bioterrorism attacks, in which five Democratic senators died in the week after 9/11 when they opened letters with traces of the bacteria. ,
The second most common transmission route is through the gastrointestinal tract, which & # 39; average to high death rates & # 39; has.
These cases usually arise from treating or slaughtering infected meat or eating contaminated meat.
The mortality risk of a person is driven by the & # 39; dynamics on the interface between wild animals and animals & # 39 ;, the researchers wrote.
Animals are exposed to B. anthracis spores in the soil, which are then returned to the soil when the livestock dies and falls apart.
Anthrax spores can survive for decades in the soil, researchers have previously revealed.
WHAT IS ANTHRAX?
Anthrax is the name of the disease caused by the traces of bacteria Bacillus anthracis and affects around 2,000 people a year, mostly in Africa.
The disease is more common in animals.
Anthrax can be contracted by touching, breathing or swallowing the spores, which can lie in dormant water and soil for years.
Once in the body, they become active and begin to produce toxins that cause the disease.
Symptoms range from blisters to shortness of breath or diarrhea, depending on how it enters the body.
The vast majority of cases are caused by skin contact. This is the least deadly form of the disease, with around 75 percent of patients surviving even without treatment.
When inhaled, the spores are much more deadly: only 20 percent of people survive, even if they receive medical help.
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