A student dies of anthrax in E China’s Shandong, team investigates source of infection
Published: Aug 31, 2021 06:15 PM
Bacillus anthracis, the pathogen that causes anthrax  Photo: website of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Bacillus anthracis, the pathogen that causes anthrax Photo: website of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention

One of the two patients infected with anthrax in East China's Shandong Province has died, according to a weekly report issued by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday.

The victim, a 14-year-old student, died on August 6. The other patient is a 35-year-old man who is a butcher, according to the report. 

The two confirmed cases were reported to the Shandong CDC as of August 15 and the authority formed a joint investigation team to determine the sources of the infection to prevent any further spread. Anthrax is a rare but serious infection caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis, and it is often fatal. 

On July 28, the student suddenly experienced fever, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea and convulsions, and was taken to the health clinic of Liumiao village for treatment. On July 31, the patient was transferred to Binzhou Medical University Hospital due to sudden unconsciousness, lockjaw and nuchal rigidity during infusion in the village clinic. 

On August 6, the patient was voluntarily discharged from the hospital and died on the same day.

The investigation team found that the second patient slaughtered sick cattle bought from Wendian township in Yangxin county at the first patient's home on July 25.

China recorded several confirmed or suspected cases of anthrax in multiple places in August, including Beijing and North China's Shanxi Province. 

Wenshui county in Shanxi reportedly found nine suspected cases of anthrax among people who were involved in cattle breeding, slaughtering and selling on August 15. Beijing also found an anthrax pneumonia patient on August 9, who came from its neighboring North China's Hebei Province, and had a contact history with cattle and sheep.

Wang Peiyu, a deputy head of Peking University's School of Public Health, told the Global Times on Tuesday that although anthrax is not contagious, it is more deadly than COVID-19, especially pulmonary anthrax.

He noted that the surge in anthrax cases recently is worth attention, suggesting that health authorities should track down the animals that transmitted the epidemic, and burn or bury those animals promptly before bacillus anthracis gets into the wider environment. 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Thursday issued a document, warning of the risk of anthrax outbreaks in places that are affected by torrential rains and floods, and that lack effective systems of animal epidemic prevention.

The Shandong CDC and related health agencies have implemented a strict 12-day quarantine requirement for all close contacts of the two confirmed cases, including 24 who quarantined at home and nine at centralized isolation facilities. 

The body temperatures and health status of each close contact were monitored daily. Meanwhile, 78 people have been screened for fever, diarrhea, vomiting and skin symptoms in primary medical institutions, and no new cases had been found as of August 24. 

Preventive medications were provided to more than 4,700 close contacts and key personnel, according to the report. 

To better address public concerns related to anthrax, recommendations have been made to raise awareness about the prevention of anthrax, and to further strengthen the training and guidance of medical staff and health workers at primary medical and healthcare services, read the CDC weekly report.