The recorded cases of anthrax in Cagayan province is a health issue and not related to any acts of terrorism, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
“We would also like to reiterate that the health event that happened in Cagayan is due to exposure to infected animals and NOT connected to any act of terrorism,” the DOH said in a statement on Friday, Dec. 23.
The DOH explained that anthrax is a “bacteria commonly found in soil.”
“It is also a zoonotic disease that is transmitted from animal to human usually via direct skin contact or consumption of contaminated food or drink. You can also be infected through inhalation of its spores,” it said.
Twenty-six individuals manifested fever, upset stomach, nausea, headache, and itchy skin lesions after they consumed two “sick and dying” carabaos last November, the DOH said.
“On Nov. 24, 2022, RHU (Rural Health Unit) and Municipal Agriculture conducted initial investigation and reported only seven cases who fit the suspect Anthrax case definition out of the 26 individuals who developed signs and symptoms,” the DOH said.
Three more carabaos died on Dec. 7 to 9 and five additional suspected anthrax cases were reported on Dec. 9 to 19, the DOH said.
Out of the 12 suspect cases recorded, “three tested positive for Bacillus anthracis via PCR (polymerase chain reaction),” the DOH said.
The DOH noted that these cases were monitored by the rural health unit and “as of Dec. 22, 2022, all cases were tagged as recovered.”
“The Inter-Agency on Environmental Health (IACEH) is overseeing the situation and coordination with the concerned national government agencies. The Department of Agriculture, through its local offices, immediately conducted investigations amongst the infected carabaos,” the DOH said.
“Rest assured that the DOH, together with other IACEH member agencies, shall continuously monitor the situation and implement the necessary interventions to prevent and/or control the increase in cases,” it added.
With this, the DOH emphasized the importance of proper handling of animal products.
“To prevent exposure to anthrax, the Department encourages safety precautions to be followed when handling animal products,” it said.
“Immediately seek medical attention should an individual become exposed to infected animals or have consumed contaminated food or drink,” it added.