4 anthrax-infected Russians leave Siberian hospital without authorization – National


Four patients infected with anthrax escaped a hospital in the Tuva region of southern Siberia before they could be fully treated, according to a statement from the regional health ministry.

“Four patients hospitalized with anthrax refused treatment at the (region’s) infectious diseases hospital and left the medical facility without authorization,” said the regional arm of Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s federal public health watchdog.

A fifth patient infected with anthrax stayed at the hospital and “continues to receive (in-patient) treatment.”

The public health officials said that the four patients who left had already undergone some antibiotic treatment and their condition was stable — but they still had physical manifestations of the disease on their skin.

“Human-to-human transmission of the infection is quite rare but possible, particularly if a patient’s skin ulcers have not completely healed,” Rospotrebnadzor added.

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According to a Health Canada fact sheet, the most common anthrax infections are cutaneous and cause “black, coal-like skin lesions.”

Russian health officials noted that patients with anthrax can only be discharged once those skin lesions have fully healed, in keeping with sanitary rules and regulations.

Two of the patients left the hospital on July 16 and the other two left the next day, according to a report from Kommersant, a Russian newspaper. Staff tried to stop the patients but failed to do so, said Anna Saryglar, head physician of the hospital.

Police were able to track down the patients back to their homes, in the villages of Bizhiktig-Khaya and Ak-Dovurak. They have been asked by medical workers to quarantine in their homes, according to the report.

The outbreak of anthrax infections in the Tuva region began on June 30, when a resident was hospitalized after visiting a shepherds’ encampment where over 100 unvaccinated animals were being held, according to TASS, Russia’s state-run news agency.

Kommersant reported that the resident, a 24-year-old man, was visiting a friend at the camp, and they butchered a horse to eat.

A week later four more people were diagnosed with anthrax. Two of them were infected after eating meat they bought at a market, according to Kommersant.

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Anthrax is a naturally-occurring disease that is caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis and most commonly affects livestock.

Humans can become infected through direct or indirect contact with infected animals, carcasses and contaminated animal products, says Health Canada. It can be inhaled or enter the body through a break in the skin or mucous membrane.

Livestock are commonly infected by ingesting Bacillus anthracis spores from contaminated feed or soil while grazing.

Canada has reported sporadic cases of anthrax, with repeated outbreaks occurring in the Mackenzie Bison Range in the Northwest Territories and in the Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta.

Anthrax infections are treated with antibiotics like penicillin.

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