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Bacillus Anthracis: Culture
(250) This is an uncommon disease of pigs in most parts of the world including the EU where it is notifiable. It is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis and is characterised by acute illness, fever, respiratory distress and rapid death.

Anthrax should be suspected if a sow is found dead and post-mortem examination shows copious blood tinged-mucus and large haemorrhagic lymph nodes under the skin of the neck and in the abdomen. The post-mortem examination should be discontinued immediately and veterinary help sought.

Diagnosis is then confirmed by taking smears for microscopy and swabs for culture from the affected tissues. (Note that samples are not made from blood as they would be with cattle).

Bacillus Anthracis: in a lesion
The veterinarian should not fix the smears by flaming because this destroys the bacterial capsule which is a diagnostic feature. Smears are best fixed in Zenker's fluid. Acute infection with Haemophilus suis in primary MEW or SPF immunologically naive sows may result in similar signs and lesions to anthrax.

The source of the infection in sows is usually feed containing contaminated feed stuffs from a spore contaminated area, although in sows kept outdoors in such regions the source may be contaminated soil or other dead animals. The anthrax bacillus is sensitive to penicillin. Care should be taken in handling diseased pigs or carcasses because the disease is communicable to people. Effective vaccines are available in some countries for both pigs and people.

Further Information on Anthrax Generally:

Anthrax Lecture

Anthrax Bacteria (malignant edema, woolsorters disease)

Anthrax as Bio-War Agent; Treatment

Anthrax Vaccine is it Safe and Effective - You Decide!!

Anthrax Vaccine immunization program

Anthrax Vaccine Home Page

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