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Thursday, 11 August 2011

Anthrax


Anthrax is a deadly disease of cattle. It is highly contagious, can be passed to man, and can infect animals in fields from which cattle have been excluded for years.

Anthrax may have been the cause of the biblical fifth plague of Egypt a widespread disease which affected all the Egyptian livestock but none of the Hebews.

In the 17th century, some 60,000 cattle died in a European pandemic known as the Black Bane, thought to have been anthrax.

In 1876 Robert Koch, who was a country doctor in Wollstein, a small town in East Germany, identified the bacterium, which causes anthrax. He became interested in the deadly disease and worked on it in a room in his house, using a microscope given to him by his wife as a 28th birthday present.

Koch's discovery was a remarkable breakthrough as it was the first time it had been proved that infectious diseases are caused by micro-organisms such as bacteria. He developed methods to purify the bacillus from blood samples and grow pure cultures and his first successful treatment was a milkmaid who was dying from anthrax.

Hyenas can comsume prey carrying anthrax without contracting the disease itself.

Household bleach is the recommended chemical to decontaminate people exposed to the anthrax virus, by the U.S. F.D.A.


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