Anthrax is a disease of domestic animals which become infected by inhaling or ingesting spores of Bacillus anthracis. In man anthrax is an occupational disease of farmers, butchers, and dealers in hides, hair, wool, and bone meal from endemic areas. Now a days there is fear and possibility of virulent anthrax spores being used as a means of bio-terrorism.
Anthrax – CAUSEBacillus anthracis
Anthrax – SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
(a) Skin infection – Inoculation of spores subcutaneously is the commonest mode of spread, Incubation period is usually 1 to 3 days.
A cutaneous lesion begins as an itching papule which enlarges and forms a vesicle filled with serosanguineous fluid surrounded by gross edema – the ‘malignant pustule’. The lesion is relatively painless and accompanied by slight enlargement of regional lymph nodes. The vesicle dries to form a thick black aschar surrounded by blebs.
In endemic areas patients may exhibit only slight constitutional symptoms and little edema but in the non-immune person high fever, toxemia and fatal septicemia may develop.
(b) Ingestion – When infected meat is eaten an ulcer with surrounding edema may develop in the throat. But often the infection causes a severe, fatal gastroenteritis.
(c) Inhalation – Spread through inhalation is not very common except in people working with animal hide and dander. But this is the way which is potentially most harmful and is the only way in which mass infection can be caused by terrorists. Such infection can lead to an acute laryngitis or a virulent hemorrhagic bronchopneumonia (wool-sorter’s disease)
(d) Occasionally anthrax may present as meningitis.
Anthrax – HOW DIAGNOSIS IS DONE?
The Bacillus anthracis can be shown in –
- a smear from the edge of a skin lesion
- laryngeal smear
- sputa (in pulmonary infection)
- stool (in gastroenteritis)
- CSF (in meningitis case)
Anthrax – HOMEOPATHY TREATMENT & HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES
Homeopathy offers many medicines which may help in anthrax. These include medicines like arsenic-alb, anthracinum, pyroginum, crot-h, lachesis, hippoz., echinecia, tarent-c etc. Many homeopaths consider anthracinum as a preventive medicine for anthrax.
Anthrax – CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT
Antibiotics like penicillin, erythromycin, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, streptomycin etc are used.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?
Once a person is infected there is little else one can do except to take treatment. But in endemic areas, those who work with animals and their products, need to take some measures like:
- Do not sleep on animal hide
- Do not eat meat of an animal which has died suddenly
- Do not take any sore throat or cough lightly.
Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 14th ed, McGraw-Hill
Davidson’s Principles and Practise of Medicine, 17th ed, 1996, Churchill Livingstone
New Manual of Homeopathic Materia Medica & Repertory, William Boericke, 2nd revised ed., 2001, B. Jain
Homeopathic Treatment requires strict individualization. Please do not take any medicine without consulting your physician/homeopath.