Incineration the best way to kill bacteria
Incineration is the best way to get rid of anthrax infected animals and safeguard other animals and humans from being tainted as the bacteria responsible for anthrax can survive in harsh conditions for decades or even centuries.
And burying the infected animals is the second best option to stop spread of the disease, Prof Dr Abu Hadi Noor Ali Khan, head of pathology department of veterinary science of Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), told The Daily Star yesterday.
Prof Khan led an expert team of BAU that first confirmed on Tuesday the recent onslaught of anthrax on domestic animals and humans in Pabna and Sirajganj as Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria responsible for anthrax disease.
According to sources, as many as 127 people have been infected so far with suspected anthrax after consuming meat of affected animals.
However, experts say one need not fear as the disease is not transmittable and its treatment is available in the country.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Star, Prof Khan said, “The best option is to incinerate the affected cows, goats, sheep and other animals so that spores cannot be formed.”
In case poor dairy owners cannot afford the cost for incineration, they should make sure their affected animals are buried at least seven feet below the surface where Bacillus anthracis fails to form cells for want of ventilation, the professor explained.
He warned that unless earth is dug at least seven feet deep for such burials, possibilities are that jackals and stray dogs will drag those out or cobblers will take away their hides.
Prof Khan and his team visited the affected regions of Pabna and Sirajganj on Monday and collected swab samples from the infected people and confirmed it to be anthrax after primary examination at the BAU laboratory.
The team of experts included vice-chancellor of BAU Prof Dr M A Sattar Mandal, Head of Medicine Department Professor Dr Siddiqur Rahman, Head of Microbiology and Hygiene Department Dr Sukumar Saha and Chief Medical Officer of BAU Health Center Dr Fayez Ahmed.
The team is now conducting other tests including the 'antibiotic sensitivity' of the disease to determine whether penicillin or ciprofloxacin would be more effective to cure the disease.
The outbreak in Sirajganj is the 8th incident in the country in one year, said Mahmudur Rahman, director of the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), adding that the disease was earlier diagnosed in Pabna, Dhaka and other areas, and 99 people were found infected.
"But there is nothing to worry as the disease is curable and the treatment is available in the country. Anthrax doesn't spread directly from one infected animal or person to another," he told The Daily Star last week.
The first anthrax outbreak in the country was detected in 2004. Since then people across the country have been infected almost every year.
According to the Wikipedia, anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. It commonly infects wild and domesticated mammals, which ingest or inhale the spores while grazing.
Affected animals can spread anthrax to humans, either by direct contact (e.g. inoculation of infected blood to broken skin) or consumption of a diseased animal's meat.
Most forms of the disease are lethal, and it affects both humans and other animals. There are effective vaccines against anthrax, and some forms of the disease respond well to antibiotic treatment.