Anthrax is a largely extinct infection in Germany with characteristic symptoms. Initially, anthrax is a veterinary medical condition that is unique to ungulates. Diseased animals have an enlarged spleen with black-red, gangrene discoloration. This circumstance is due to the name anthrax.

Anthrax: Definition

Anthrax, or anthrax, (anthrax = coal, because of the black discoloration of the spleen or the affected skin) is a worldwide, bacterial infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals, especially cattle, sheep and horses (zoonosis). The danger of infection from person to person is low.

Anthrax: pathogen called Bacillus anthracis

The anthrax pathogen was first discovered in 1855 by the German physician Aloys Pollender (1800 - 1879). It is a Gram-positive, encapsulated, aerobic, spore-forming rod belonging to the family Bacillaceae. Robert Koch, the founder of modern bacteriology, succeeded in 1876 to breed the pathogen and make the first artificial infection. Louis Pasteur succeeded in 1883 to develop a vaccine against anthrax.

Crucial to the aggressiveness of the pathogen is its ability to toxin (poison) - and capsule formation. Cloaked, he escapes the defense mechanisms of animals and humans. The survival time of the bacterium in the environment is low. However, it is capable of producing extremely resistant spores, which may survive for decades. Spores are practically "inactive" life forms of bacteria. If they get into a favorable environment, they become active again and begin to multiply.

During the Second World War, in the United Kingdom in research experiments with prepared grenades, the island of Gruinard off Scotland was infested with Bacillus for decades. Depending on the route of infection, the pathogen leads to a different clinical picture. Depending on the intensity and exposure time of the bacterium, it can take between one to 14 days for the first symptoms to appear.

Anthrax: recognize symptoms

In about 95 percent of the cases, spores of the pathogen reach the human body via the skin surface (skin mille brandy). The smallest skin lesions serve Bacillus as a portal of entry. Typical of this form is a redness at the receiving site, in which forms a bubble with a black center.

Starting with small pustules to ulcers, inflammatory water retention (edema) and suppurations it comes quickly to the deterioration of the general condition with fever, vomiting, disorientation and cardiovascular disorders. The passage of the pathogen into the lymphatic system with subsequent blood poisoning usually ends fatally. If the therapy is started in time, the chances of recovery are good.

The pulmonary anthrax develops after inhaling the spores. After a flu-like initial stage, severe pneumonia develops with increasing respiratory distress. The prognosis is much worse here. Death occurs about 3 to 5 days after the onset of the disease.

About infected food or drinking water, the intestinal anthrax develops. It causes fever with severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. This form usually ends fatally after a short time. Pulmonary and intestinal spasms only occur in very rare cases.

Therapy with penicillin

Successfully, the anthrax is treated with the timely administration of high-dose penicillin over several weeks. For persons with penicillin allergy the antibiotics erythromycin and tetracycline are suitable.

The research continues

In 2002, US researchers around Raymond Schuch at Rockefeller University developed a protein (PlyG lysine protein) that eliminates the toxic substances secreted by the anthrax pathogen. In addition, areas with suspected anthrax spores can be examined by rapid test based on the researched product. This lasted for several days.

In an issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology, the scientist Mourez and his team are showing their findings on an anthrax inhibitor they have developed. The studies on rats showed no side effects. With the help of this inhibitor, both a prophylactic measure would exist, as well as a drug for the treatment of anthrax be created.

In 2013, a dead vaccine against anthrax was approved in Germany, which enables the immunization of people who could come into contact with anthrax pathogens, such as veterinarians or coaters.

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