Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's Health Ministry is raising awareness at all health service facilities in Yogyakarta regarding the potential spread of anthrax spores from livestock to humans.

"Anthrax-causing bacteria, when (they come) in contact with air, form spores that are very resistant to certain environmental conditions and chemicals," the ministry's Director for the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Imran Pambudi said.

The anthrax-causing bacteria can even survive for decades in the soil, he informed at an online press conference on Thursday.

He said anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by the Bacillus anthracis bacteria, which attacks herbivorous animals, such as cows, goats, sheep, and others, and can be transmitted to humans.

According to Pambudi, there are four types of anthrax that can affect humans, the most common one in Indonesia being skin (cutaneous) anthrax, which has around 25 percent risk of causing death from wounds or abrasions that allow the bacteria to enter the skin tissue.

The next is lung anthrax, with an up to 80 percent risk of death since it involves anthrax spores getting inhaled into the respiratory tract and reaching alveoli walls, he explained.

Anthrax can also attack the digestive tract, with the risk of death in such cases ranging from 25 to 75 percent. Bacteria can enter a person's body after the consumption of meat obtained from infected animals, which is not cooked properly, Pambudi informed.

Lastly, there is a new type of anthrax called injectable anthrax that is similar to skin anthrax. It is detected in people who inject narcotics, he explained.

Pambudi said anthrax transmission can happen due to the spores, which act as protective bacteria in the soil and can survive for more than 40 years.

Spores enter the human body through wounds or food and drinks containing them. The bacteria can also be ingested by livestock.

"When the animal dies and is buried, the spores are capable of entering a human's body. Therefore, it needs more intensive handling," he said.

Pambudi informed that Yogyakarta is an anthrax-endemic area that recently recorded three anthrax deaths in Gunungkidul District, which were caused due to the consumption of meat containing anthrax bacteria.

In view of this, the Health Ministry has issued a letter asking all health facilities in Yogyakarta Province to increase awareness through surveillance and management of anthrax cases.

The letter applies to the Kulon Progo, Bantul, Sleman, and Gunungkidul Districts, and Yogyakarta City.

The ministry has also formed a One Health Integrated Task Force Team drawn from representatives from the health services, animal husbandry services, and environmental services to carry out epidemiological investigations.

"We are also providing treatment to patients who are confirmed positive and vaccinating livestock, decontaminating them, and limiting livestock mobilization," Pambudi informed.

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Translator: Andi Firdaus, Resinta S
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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