Fifteen more people have been reported infected with anthrax in Sirajganj's Shazadpur and Kamarkhand upazilas bringing the total number of human infections to an alarming 106 within a month in the district.
This is the highest ever anthrax infection across the country, sources said.
The infection has been spread by reckless slaughtering of diseased animals according to the district health department.
Sirajganj Civil Surgeon Dr Shahid Md Sadikul Islam said 11 anthrax infected patients have been identified in Shahzadpur upazila and four other infected patients were found in Kamarkhand upazila on Wednesday. All patients are being treated.
A total of 11 anthrax infected patients have been identified in Nandalalpur village of Shahzadpur upazila on Wednesday and they are being treated at the upazila health complex the civil surgeon said adding that the four have been identified in Kamarkhand upazila yesterday. Earlier 47 anthrax infected patients were found in these two upazilas on May 15, he said.
“A total of 106 anthrax infected patients have been identified in a month in Shahzadpur, Kamarkhand and Ullapara upazilas of the district in a month. Of them 44 were found in the single village of Ullapara's Koira Soratola village, 32 in Kamarkhand and 30 in Shahzadpur upazila,” the civil surgeon said.
Although at a joint coordination meeting of the district administration, the health department and livestock department issued orders to stop slaughter of infected animals, the slaughtering did not stop causing the eventual spread of infection to humans.
Talking to The Daily Star, district livestock officer (DLO) Akteruzzaman Bhuiyan said cattle farmer Moyen Uddin of Nandalalpur village slaughtered a diseased cow on May, 15 without informing livestock officials. All those who took part in the meat processing ended up being infected in Shahzadpur.
“Livestock officials caught the accused cattle farmer Moyen and fined him Tk five thousand. The livestock mobile court also levied fines of Tk four thousand each to four meat traders in Bagbaria village of Shahzadpur upazila on Wednesday for similar actions,” the DLO said.
We are trying to make all the people aware of the risk in slaughtering diseased animals but most people are not obeying our directives, he said. The livestock department took to running mobile courts to prevent further slaughtering of infected animals.
Butchers have also been ordered to get their animals certified by livestock officers before slaughtering or risk fines, he added.
Meanwhile the district health department has opened 35 medical teams in three Anthrax affected upazilas of the district to tackle the ongoing outbreak of infection. Of them five teams are working in Kamarkhand upazila and the other 15 teams are working in Ullapara and Shahzadpur upazilas for the last couple of weeks.
“The medical teams comprise of doctors and health assistants under the guidance of the district civil surgeon's office The spread of the infection will be hard to contain if locals do not cooperate,” the civil surgeon said recommending strong monitoring of livestock & people in the affected areas.