By Karine Kalantarian.
On August 5, at least 14 people in the northern Armenian region of Shirak were diagnosed as suffering from a skin form of anthrax infection. The first case was registered in the Shirak village of Zaratak. According to local health officials, the outbreak of the disease was caused by the forced slaughter and sale of meat from infected cattle.
The head of the department of health of the Shirak regional administration, Ruben Khachatrian, told RFE/RL that meat from the slaughtered cattle was sold to some 200 villagers and the first case of anthrax was diagnosed in the Zaratak clinic. Doctors at the clinic diagnosed two cases of the skin form of anthrax, after which two patients were transferred to the regional hospital.
Currently there are at least 14 patients in the regional hospital diagnosed with anthrax infection. According to Khachatrian, all the patients hospitalized with anthrax have the skin form of the disease, which is relatively easy to cure. He said that despite the shortage of proper medication and lack of financing, the hospital has managed somehow to treat the patients and the disease is now under control.
According to Ministry of Health spokesperson Paitsar Dilbarian, anthrax can infect the skin, the stomach (intestinal anthrax) or the lungs (pulmonary anthrax). The skin infection of anthrax is a mildest form of disease, and Dilbairian stressed that it is not life-threatening.