Nine people in the northern province of Shanxi have been found to be infected with anthrax, a treatable bacterial illness that commonly exists in domestic and wild animals, state broadcaster China Central Television reported Sunday.
The nine residents of Baoxian village in Wenshui County are said to have contracted the bacterial disease after coming in contact with infected animals, according to CCTV. All infected individuals were involved in breeding and slaughtering of cows, as well as selling their meat.
Anthrax primarily affects herbivorous animals, though the bacteria can be transmitted to humans who come into contact with infected animals or animal products, according to the World Health Organization. The bacteria — which has also been used in biochemical weapons — is not considered a contagious disease and can be successfully treated using antibiotic therapy if administered in the early stages of infection.
As of Sunday, two of the patients were being treated in Shanxi’s provincial capital Taiyuan, while five remain at a local hospital in Baoxian, CCTV reported. Meanwhile, two others have been discharged from the hospital following a full recovery.
Li Jianfeng, the owner of a beef processing facility that employs around five employees, told Sixth Tone that all such factories have been shut since the disease was diagnosed last week.
“Basically all the factories are shut, and no beef deliveries are going out,” he said, adding that most locals have stayed indoors despite having any quarantine requirements. “We are waiting for further directions from the market regulators.”
Shanxi is known for its cattle trade, with Baoxian named in 2019 as a model village for cattle breeding by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. The move was part of China’s “rural renaissance” initiative that encouraged the region to further develop its trade.
China reports hundreds of cases of anthrax every year, mostly in rural areas where animal husbandry is the main economic pillar, though the number has declined over past decades, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Domestic media reported there are between 300 and 500 cases every year, with few deaths.
Shanxi’s health authorities said they have dispatched relevant resources and medical experts to Baoxian, according to CCTV. Officials did not immediately respond to Sixth Tone’s inquiry for further updates about the disease.
Last Monday, a separate anthrax case was reported in the capital Beijing, according to the city’s disease prevention and control center. The individual was reported to be from the northern Hebei province who had a history of contact with cattle, sheep, and their byproducts.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: Science Photo Library/People Visual)