An infamous non-contagious disease…
Anthrax is a fatal disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. This bacterium is widespread in soil in the environment in Africa. It is Gram positive, non-motile rods with a squared ended appearance (when viewed microscopically); which form spores during nutrient scarcity. The spores are stable under extreme conditions like UV radiation, some chemical disinfectants, heat and cold. Spores can thus survive in the environment for decades or even centuries.
Routes to infection include:
- Consumption of contaminated products
- Inhalation of spores
- Through cuts and abrasions on the skin
- Working with contaminated animal byproducts
- Injection of contaminated heroin
Antibiotics are effective. Bacillus anthracis is highly susceptible to penicillin, although early diagnosis is imperative since the toxins produced by the bacterium can cause complications which may prove fatal if left unattended.
The Sterne (34F2) live spore attenuated vaccine has been effective in the control of anthrax in livestock since 1937, when it was first produced by Max Sterne in Onderstepoort, South Africa.
Since then, multiple options have been available for the vaccination of livestock internationally, including combined vaccine formulations. Although these still include Sterne 34F2 unencapsulated strain.