"The anthracis spores are able to remain alive for years on contaminated soil and water," The Health Ministry's Director for Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Siti Nadia Tarmizi said commenting on the spread of anthrax in Gunung Kidul District which has infected 27 people.
Due to the fact that the spores remain latent, the areas which had ever experienced an anthrax outbreak decades ago, the anthracis spores can again appear when the contaminated soil of the burial site of dead animals is cultivated, she said.
The anthracis spores could get attached to leaves and grass which were consumed by livestock. As a result, the cattle would get infected by the anthrax disease, she said.
According to Siti Nadia Tarmizi, three cows and six goats had reportedly died owing to anthrax in Gunung Kidul District while, as of Dec 31, 2019, the number of local residents who had got infected by the disease had reached 27. One of them died of meningitis.
In the meantime, the Indonesian Health Ministry had dispatched a special team to examine and handle the spread of anthrax in Ponjong and Semanu Subdistricts in Gunung Kidul District.
"My team has been deployed in the district because the spores are there. We are directly monitoring and examining that," Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto told journalists at the Presidential Palace on Thursday.
In helping to cure those who tested positive, the health ministry supplied antibiotics, he said and added that anthrax might have infected several residents who consumed the meat of a dead cow.
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On January 4, 2020 the health workers found that 600 residents of the two sub-districts could have been affected by anthrax, and 78 of them were observed to have the clinical features of this disease, Head of the Disease Prevention and Control Unit at the Gunung Kidul Health Office Sumitro said.
The local health authorities sent the blood samples of the victims for tests. The result showed that 27 people had tested positive to the disease, he said.
The infected residents had been administered antibiotic prophylaxis for 20 days, and were required to undergo another blood test at Bogor city's BBVEt facilities in West Java Province, Sumitro said.
The residents who were suffering from the general signs and symptoms of this anthrax were just administered an antibiotic, he said, adding that the infected residents were not isolated because the disease was not contagious.
"Anthrax is a major cause of fatalities in cattle, sheep, goats, camels, horses, and pigs throughout the world," the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated.
It had caused the death of the owner of the infected cow because he had consumed meat of the dead cow and regularly cleaned the cattle cage, Sumitro further said.
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In halting the spread of the disease, the district's health authorities had closely coordinated with those from the Food and Agriculture Office regarding education and public awareness campaign programs.
"We have also disseminated information to the people at large urging them to cook all meat properly, and not to consume the meat of ailing animals," he added.