Sierra Leone Government Releases Public Health Information About Anthrax

The Government of Sierra Leone has released public health messages about Anthrax, stating definitions of Anthrax, signs and symptoms, how to protect oneself against it, and what to do if contact it.

The message states that:

“Anthrax is a sickness that can make people and sick.

• Anthrax sickness in people ranges from not too serious to very serious and even death.

• A person can get anthrax from an animal in two ways.

• One way is through an opening in the skin, like a cut, scrape, or sore.

• Another way is through the mouth by eating or drinking something with anthrax or by touching something that has anthrax and then touching your mouth.

• Anthrax can cause different types of signs and symptoms in people depending on how it enters a person’s body.

• Anthrax does not easily spread from person to person and is very uncommon.

• If a person sick with anthrax does not get early treatment, the sickness can get worse and the person can die.

Signs and Symptoms of Anthrax in People

• The length of time from when anthrax enters a person’s body to when the person starts to show signs and symptoms of anthrax ranges from one day to two months.

• Anthrax can cause different types of signs and symptoms in people depending on how it enters a person’s body.

• Anthrax through the skin is the most common type of anthrax in people. Signs and symptoms of anthrax through the skin include:
o An itchy bump that looks like an insect bite that quickly changes into a painless sore with a black center. Most times it is on the face, neck, arms, or hands
o Swelling around the sore

• Anthrax through the mouth is not common in people. Signs and symptoms of anthrax through the mouth include:

o Vomiting
o Bloody diarrhea
o Loss of appetite
o Fever
o Headache
o Sore or harsh throat and difficulty swallowing
o Swollen neck
o Red face and eyes
o Fainting
o Swelling of stomach

• The signs and symptoms of anthrax through the skin usually start to get better after 10 days but can take many weeks to go away completely.

The Different Ways Anthrax is Spread

• Anthrax can spread from an animal to a person through:
o Touching an animal or animal products that have anthrax.
o Eating uncooked or undercooked animal beef or other animal products like milk or eggs that has anthrax.

• Anthrax from an animal enters a person’s body through a break in the skin such as a cut or scrape or through the mouth.

• People most likely to get anthrax are people that work closely with animals and animal products, such as livestock owners or butchers, are at higher risk of getting anthrax.

• Anthrax does not easily spread from person to person and is very uncommon.

How to Protect Against Anthrax

• There are actions we can take to protect ourselves and our families from anthrax.

Protect Yourself and Others from Sick and Dead Animals

• When possible, avoid animals that look sick and animals that you find dead.

• Do not touch with bare hands the body or body fluids, such as wet, toilet, blood, and spit, of an animal that looks sick or that you find dead. Sick animals and animals we find dead can spread their sickness to us if we touch them or their body fluids.

• Animals are an important food source. To keep healthy, it is important to never prepare or eat, sell, or give away an animal that looks sick or that you find dead. Sick animals and animals we find dead can spread their sickness to those who touch them.

• Always wash your hands and arms with soap and water immediately after any contact with an animal.

• If you think an animal may have died of anthrax, do not open the body of the dead animal. Call an animal health worker, community health worker, environmental officer, traditional healer, religious leader, or your chief immediately for advice.

• Tell an animal health worker, community health worker, environmental officer, traditional healer, religious leader, or your chief about any animal that looks sick or that you find dead.

• Telling an animal health worker, community health worker, environmental officer, traditional healer, religious leader, or your chief about an animal that looks sick or that you find dead can help district authorities know about sicknesses before they become a problem for people.

Wash Your Hands After Any Contact with an Animal

• We use our hands for many things, so it is easy for sickness to spread when we touch something with the sickness and then touch our eyes, nose, mouth, another animal or person, food, and other things.

• Washing our hands with soap and water frequently is one of the best ways to keep healthy and help stop the spread of sickness.

• Washing our hands with soap and water after touching or handling animal meat or products, and cleaning areas where animals have been are some of the best ways we can stop the spread of sickness from an animal to ourselves and our families.

• Always wash your hands with soap and water immediately after touching any animal – even if the animal looks healthy.

• Adults should help or make sure young children wash their hands well.
• Wash your hands with soap and water:
o After touching any animal.
o After disposing of a dead animal.
o Before entering and after leaving an area where animals have been or are kept.
o After touching animal waste or cleaning an area where animals have been or are kept.
o Before and after killing or butchering an animal.
o Before and after touching raw animal parts or animal products like milk or eggs.
o Before, during, and after preparing food.
o Before eating food.
o Before feeding a child.
o After using the toilet.
o After changing diapers or cleaning a baby’s bottom.
o After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
o Before and after visiting or caring for someone who is sick.
o Before and after treating a cut, bite, or scratch.

• You can stop the spread of sickness by washing your hands well.
o Soak your hands with water.
o Use enough soap to cover all hand surfaces.
o Rub hands together and scrub the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
o Rinse hands well with water.
o Dry your hands with a tissue or swing your hands to dry them in the air.

Store and Prepare Food and Water Safely

• Anthrax can spread from animals to people when we touch or eat an animal with anthrax or when we touch, eat, or drink something that has the body fluids of an animal with anthrax on or in it.

• Eat and drink away from animals and areas where animals are kept.

• Keep animals away from areas where food or drink is stored, prepared, or eaten.

• When preparing and cooking food, use clean surfaces, bowls, knives, spoons, forks, cups, and other items.

• Wash hands with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food.

• Wash hands with soap and water before and after touching raw animal products such as beef or milk.
• Keep raw beef and other animal products away from fruits and vegetables and cooked foods.

• Wash all surfaces and items used to prepare food with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with any animal parts or products including skin, guts, and raw beef or milk.

• Cook food well to help stop the spread of any sickness. Food should be hot to the touch all the way through.
o Beef should be cooked until no pink is left.
o Eat and drink only cooked milk and eggs. Boil or fry eggs until they are cooked solid.
o Bring foods like soups, stews, and “plasas” to boiling before eating.
o Eat food while it is hot.
o Reheat cooked food very hot.

What to Do if Someone Gets Sick or Dies After Contact with an Animal

• If you think you may have come in contact with anthrax or if you have any of the signs and symptoms of anthrax, go to your nearest health facility or community health worker right away.
o Getting early treatment for anthrax can save lives.
o When someone gets early care and treatment, he or she has a better chance at healing quickly and with fewer problems.

• If you have signs and symptoms of anthrax, make sure to tell your health worker if you have had recent contact with any animal or spent time in an area where animals live, visit, or are kept.

• If a person gets sick or dies after contact with an animal, go to your nearest health facility or community health worker or call 117.

• Telling a health worker about any sickness or death after contact with an animal can help district authorities find the reason for the sickness or death and can save the lives of others in Sierra Leone.

• Call 117 to report all deaths.”

 

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