A day after five patients in Andhra's King George Hospital (KGH) in Visakhapatnam, tested positive for cutaneous anthrax on Tuesday, three more locals were admitted for showing symptoms of the disease.
Like the five people who tested positive earlier, the three new people suspected to be infected, also hail from Kodupunjuvalasa in Araku mandal.
“Three persons have shown symptoms of anthrax. We are requesting the sarpanch and their family members to get admitted in King George Hospital for treatment,” said district medical and health officer Dr Uma Sundari told DC.
Doctors suspect that the disease may have infected the patients, after they consumed the meat of a goat, which was infected with Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes the disease.
The five victims who tested positive, have been identified as K Krishna (60), J Somanna (45), G Mangalayya (33), J Gundu (50) and P Gundu (38).
Meanwhile, the Visakhapatnam district administration has upped the ante, to curb the spread of the disease.
After a massive review meeting on Wednesday, officials decided to convert all PHCs in the Agency area into 24-hour hospitals, and take stock of all the medical facilities available at the village level.
Speaking to The Hindu, YSRCP MLA from Paderu, Giddi Eswari said, “Incidence of anthrax in the Agency areas of Visakhapatnam is a recurring problem...This is the worst season in the Agency areas. Tribal people fear this period as seasonal diseases such as malaria, anthrax and fevers are rampant and every year many of them die. The district administration is always in a fire-fighting mode and not pro-active."
On Tuesday, State Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao also visited the anthrax-affected patients.
The Minister said that officials were working actively to curb the spread of the disease, with the Animal Husbandry Department taking steps to ensure that animals do not get infected.
He also added that the soil would also be tested in and around Kodipunjuvalasa.
Anthrax cases are reported from Vizag's Agency areas like Chintapalli, Munchingput and Araku almost every year, as it consists of a large tribal population that live in remote areas, with no proper connectivity to health care facilities.
Anthrax can be found naturally in soil and can result in pneumonia, blood infection, and death. It mainly affects cattle, but can also spread to people.