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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1994 Mar-Apr;88(2):206-7.

An outbreak of anthrax meningoencephalitis.

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Department of Medicine, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India.


We report a common-source outbreak of anthrax meningoencephalitis in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh, southern India, in October 1990. The source of infection was the carcass of a sheep. Of 5 persons who skinned and cut up its meat for human consumption, 4 developed anthrax meningoencephalitis and one a malignant pustule. Another person who wrapped the meat in a cloth and carried it home on his head developed a malignant pustule on his forehead and also meningoencephalitis. All subjects with anthrax meningoencephalitis died, but the one with only a malignant pustule recovered. A large number of people who cooked or ate the cooked meat of the dead sheep remained well. The medical, public health and veterinary authorities were alerted and sheep, goats and cattle in the locality were immunized with anthrax vaccine. Although rules against consumption of meat of dead animals exist, their violation shows a lack of public awareness. Health education should be undertaken to correct this situation.

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