CHARACTERISTICS OF BACILLUS ANTHRACIS
CLINICAL INFECTIONS OF ANTHRAX
Anthrax produces an epizootic disease in herbivorous like sheep and cattle. In animal, the point of entry is always the mouth and intestinal tract, the spores being ingested with course vegetation which probably predisposes to trauma of the mucosa. Infection may also take place by the inhalation of dust-containing spores into the respiratory tract of by the entry of spores through abraded skin.
The spores germinate and the vegetative cells produce toxin leading to the formation of gelatinous oedema and haemorrhage . In the susceptible animals the bacilli resist phagocytosis and reach the lymphatics and hence the blood stream. Before death the bacilli multiply freely in the blood and tissues. In the resistant animal there is more profuse leucocyte response with phagocytosis and decapsulation of the organism.
In man, infection is acquired from animal sources, usually through damaged skin or mucous membranes or more rarely by inhalation of spores into the lungs. Infection occurs most commonly through the skin in persons such as farmers and veterinary surgeons handling infected animals or among dock workers, factory workers and farmers from handling carcases and hides, animal’s hair and bristles, shaving-brishes, feeding-stuffs and bone meals.
The resulting lesion is cutaneous anthrax, sometimes describe as a malignant pustule. The lesion starts as a papule and becomes a blister within 12-48 hours and the a pustule with an increasing area of inflammation depending upon the resistance of the host. Coagulation necrosis of the centre results in the formation of a dark-coloured eschar which is later surrounded by a ring of vesicles containing serous or sero-sanguineous fluid; outside this is an area of oedema and induration which may become very extensive. The degree of oedema varies and may be quite small with a large malignant pustule or very extensive with a tiny local lesion. The degree of oedema and toxicity is important, the prognosis being poor in patients with severe toxic signs and widespread oedema and in those developing septicaemia.
Infection may results from inhalation of spores carried in dust or filaments of wool from infected animals, as in the wool factories. The organisms settle in the lower part of the trachea or in a large bronchus, and an intense inflammatory lesion results, with haemorrahage, oedema, spread to the thoracic lymph nodes, involvement of the lungs and effusion into the pericardial and pleural cavities, the organism are present in considerable numbers in the lesions, septicaemia or haemorrhagic meningitis may supervene.
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