Philippine health officials investigate anthrax outbreak in Abra, slow the spread of chikungunya in Samar
Officials from the Philippines Department of Health (DoH) are investigating and battling two disease outbreak in two different regions of the country.
The DoH has dispatched a team of investigators to the northern province of Abra to investigate a suspected outbreak of the serious bacterial disease, anthrax, which has been implicated in at least 23 cases in Lagangilang, Abra, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report today.
“A DOH team is now assisting local officials in coordination with the Bureau of Animal Industry in the conduct of an outbreak investigation,”according to the report.
It is reported that the suspected cases are showing signs of cutaneous anthrax. Cutaneous anthrax is a form of the disease that occurs when the spore (or possibly the bacterium) enters a cut or abrasion on the skin. It starts out as a raised bump that looks like an insect bite. It then develops into a blackened lesion called an eschar that may form a scab. Lymph glands in the area may swell plus edema may be present. This form of anthrax responds well to antibiotics. If untreated, deaths can occur if the infection goes systemic. 95% of cases of anthrax are cutaneous.
Anthrax is endemic in the Philippines. It generally affects animals such as carabao (water buffalo). Humans are at risk of the disease when handling and/or consuming the infected animal.
The DoH is also working to slow the spread of the mosquito borne viral disease, chikungunya fever in the area of Villareal, Samar, which has seen over 500 cases since December 2012, according to a Tacloban SunStar report Tuesday.
“We believe, the ailment is also present in other municipalities but the number is not that alarming. Outbreak occurred in Villareal probably because of many breeding grounds for mosquitoes,”noted DOH regional information officer Bryant Labastida.
Chikungunya fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus (the “Asian Tiger Mosquito”). Chikungunya virus is a member of the genus Alphavirus, in the family Togaviridae.
Chikungunya fever is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., joint swelling), laboratory testing, and the possibility of exposure to infected mosquitoes. There is no specific treatment or vaccine available for chikungunya fever; care is based on symptoms. It is rarely fatal.
Labastida said the disease is not as deadly as dengue but mortality is possible since the victim’s immune system weakens, thus making them prone to high-risk infectious diseases.
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