Anthrax case in South Texas prompts warning : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

July 10, 2001, 10:00AM

Anthrax case in South Texas prompts warning Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO - As a result of the second reported case of human anthrax infection, health officials are warning South Texas ranchers, hunters and vacationers to avoid contact with dead or sickly looking animals.

Health officials learned late Friday of a second probable case of human anthrax exposure, both in Val Verde County ranch workers. Tests are still under way, but if confirmed, they would be the first human anthrax cases in Texas since 1988, said Julie Rawlings, an epidemiologist with the Texas Department of Health.

Officials say there is little risk of the bacterial illness spreading more widely among people, despite a recent outbreak among livestock.

"The best advice now is that if anybody finds a carcass, they should leave it alone. This is not a good time to be out collecting bones or skulls," said Rick Taylor, a field biologist at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's Uvalde office.

Hundreds of deer, and several horses and cattle have died from probable anthrax disease in what health officials are describing as the worst outbreak in two decades.

Confirmed cases have been reported in Val Verde and Uvalde counties, and likely animal deaths have been reported in Bandera, Edwards, Kinney and Real counties.

"I had one client (who) told me he had counted at least 50 on one ranch," said Dr. Cecil Arnim Jr., a Uvalde veterinarian.

The people most likely to encounter infected animals should be familiar with safety precautions because anthrax is endemic to South Texas, Rawlings said.

"The ranchers and Parks & Wildlife employees should know the best way to deal with them is by burning them and to avoid any kind of direct contact, especially if they have any cuts on their skin where they might come in contact with the animals," Rawlings said.

Anthrax is a bacteria sometimes used in biological warfare. It rapidly produces toxins that cause severe damage to the respiratory system and brain. Untreated patients usually die within days.

Animals contract the disease by ingesting spores from the soil.

Human exposure can result from an infected animal's blood or other bodily fluid getting into an exposed cut or abrasion.

In humans, symptoms of the disease usually occur within seven days. Anthrax can cause respiratory failure and death within a week.

Agricultural and wildlife officials said the outbreak already may be winding down and should be over by the time cooler weather and deer-hunting season arrive in the fall.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 10, 2001


The article mixes information about the various forms of anthrax. Some of what is said doesn't apply to the case that prompted the news report. In this instance it was the cutaneous (skin) form of anthrax, which is treatable (case-fatality rate is around 10% if untreated, and < 1% if treated appropriately; compare this to the pneumonic (lung) form, which is essentially 100% fatal). Fortunately, the cutaneous form is far more common in "naturally" occurring human infections.

<< avoid contact with dead or sickly looking animals >>

Always good advice, whether or not there have been cutaneous anthrax cases in your neighborhood.

Here's a few other bits of always useful advise, offered gratis from me to you:

Wear your seatbelt.

Don't drink and drive.

Don't eat [fecal material]. Always wash your hands after using the toilet and before eating.

Get out of debt.

To thine own self be true.

-- Andre Weltman (, July 11, 2001.

And two of my favorites:

Don't step on Superman's cape Don't spit into the wind.

Thanks Andre

-- poconojo (, July 11, 2001.

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