Anthrax continues to scourge people mostly in the south-western Meherpur and northern Sirajgang district.
In its latest bout, at least seven people including four women and a 10-year-old have been confirmed to have been infected with the bacterium in a village of Sirajganj’s Shahjadpur upazilla.
The bacterium remains a perennial problem in Bangladesh. In 2010 it took a heavy toll on Bangladesh’s export-oriented leather industry.
Director of the government’s disease monitoring arm, IEDCR, Prof Mahmudur Rahman told bdnews24.com they had confirmation of seven new patients identified on Wednesday and Thursday.
They were under treatment, he said.
bdnews24.com Sirajganj correspondent quoting livestock officials said a diseased cow had been slaughtered and those infected were engaged with processing and cleaning.
The bacterium can survive in the soil in harsh conditions for even centuries. Cattles get infected while grazing during rainy days when water brings the bacterium to the surface.
It only passes on to the human while handling infected livestock, though not life-threatening. Person-to-person transmission does not occur but it can be fatal if it goes into lungs and intestines.
The IEDCR strongly recommends “not to slaughter sick cattle”.
A cheap vaccine can keep animals healthy from the bacterium, but it is reported that the vaccination is not being carried out properly across the country.
Shahjadpur Upazilla Livestock Officer Dr Abdul Hai said in March they had vaccinated all cattle of the ‘Charkoijuri’ village from where those people were found infected.
“The infected cow might have been imported from other place,” he said.
The IEDCR Director said people should know how to dispose of dead animals. “They usually throw dead animals either into the water bodies or in the open field that helps the bacterium to stay on the surface”.
He urged all to bury dead animals after wrapping them with plastic.
So far more than 240 cases have been confirmed this year. Of them, 141 were only from Gangni of Meherpur. With the latest cases, the number rose to 26 at Shahjadpur.
In 2010, the number crossed 600 across Bangladesh that led people to stop buying meat triggering a downturn in meat sale.
Even the government declared a red alert on livestock officials during Eid holidays.
The IEDCR first recorded anthrax in 1986 among 19 tannery workers.
Pabna, Kushtia, Tangail, Manikganj, Satkhira, Lalmonirhat, Rajshahi, Narayanganj, Laxmipur, and some parts of Chittagong are the other districts where anthrax patients are usually found.