Bacillus Anthracis is a spore forming bacterial organism. Its rod shaped and is Gram positive in nature.
The bacilli can be cultivated on a nutrient medium either under aerobic conditions or in anaerobic areas. The bacillus was discovered somewhat in the 1850’s.
This bacterium is said to be the main causative agent for the Anthrax disease.
The bacilli are present generally in a spore form. The bacteria grow in a dormant stage.
The bacilli are generally found in the faecal matter of animals like cows, goats, pigs and sheep. The bacilli can stay dormant in the soil for many years.
Under certain favorable conditions the spores can hatch out into the eggs and further can cause the disease.
Mode of transmission of Bacillus Anthracis:
1) The spores can enter the skin through any kind of open wound or cut and can then produce the virulent strain, causing the disease.
2) The spores can also be inhaled and can cause the anthrax in the lungs leading to respiratory distress.
3) The spores may be ingested also, and can reach the gastrointestinal region causing the anthrax in the abdominal area.
Symptoms of anthrax caused by Bacillus Anthracis:
If the spores of these bacteria have affected the skin, mostly cutaneous symptoms are noted like,
a) Scabs on the skin
b) Blisters on the feet and upper extremities
If the anthrax is limited to the respiratory area the patient ay start to show symptoms of fever, headache, breathing difficulties and in worse cases the patient may go into shock.
If the anthrax bacilli has affected the abdominal region, the patient ay show the following symptoms like, vomiting, diarrhea with a bloody tinge. The patient’s hemoglobin may drop suddenly causing him to become anemic.
Certain tests can be performed to check if the person is carrying a positive strain of the bacillus anthracis organism.
1) A culture can be taken from one of the skin lesions to check of the spores have affected the cutaneous areas.
2) A throat swab or a sputum swab can be obtained for culture.
3) A chest x- ray can be taken.
4) Gram staining can be done of the tissue culture obtained.
Treatment for patients having the Bacillus anthracis strain:
In the early days Louis Pasteur had developed a vaccine for the bacterium. By injecting a person with an extract of the damaged strain of the bacillus anthracis, the person will then develop a resistance against the bacteria when injected with its damaged form.
Certain drugs also can be administered to cure the people, who have this bacterium in their body.
Infections caused due to bacillus anthracis can be treated by administering antibiotics like penicillin and other drugs like ciprofloxacin or tetracycline can be given to those patients who are resistant to penicillin.
Infections caused by this bacterium are cured completely if they are treated at an early stage by the drugs. But if the infection has spread to the blood stream, then chances of survival are quite weak.
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