Woolsorters disease

Woolsorter's disease

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

ICD-10: A22.1

Alternative Name: Pulmonary anthrax, ragsorter's disease, ragpicker's disease, and woolsorter's pneumonia.

Woolsorter's disease is a rare infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis). Woolsorter's disease occurs naturally around the world in wild and domestic hoofed animals, especially cattle, sheep, goats, camels and antelopes. It can also occur in humans when they are exposed to the bacterium, usually through handling animals or animal hides.

Infection follows inhalation of anthrax spores which are phagocytized by alveolar macrophages and transported to hilar and tracheobronchial nodes where germination and multiplication of bacilli occur. Bacteremia then ensues and hemorrhagic meningitis is a frequent complication. Incubation period is a few hours to 7 days, usually within 48 hours of exposure.

Risk factors include:

    Handling contaminated animal products.

  • Animal hair processing.

  • Contact with livestock.

  • Products from livestock.

Occupations at risk are:


  • Animal handlers.

  • Abattoir workers.

  • Laboratorians.

The disease occurs worldwide. In some countries, specific areas are known to favour the survival of anthrax bacterium spores in the soil and are thus subject to occasional outbreaks. Alkaline soils are favourable to the survival of the spores. In these areas, the spores of the organism multiply when soil conditions - such as temperature, moisture and nutrition - are favourable. Recurrence of the disease is experienced in such locations periodically for many years.

The disease mainly affects domestic animals - such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, pigs and dogs - as well as wild ruminants such as antelopes, gazelles and impalas. Even elephants and hippopotami are reported to have died from the disease in outbreaks in some parts of Africa. Wild carnivores such as lions, hyenas and jackals, are also susceptible. Birds, however, seem to be resistant to anthrax.

Without treatment, the mortality rate of woolsorter's disease is approximately 95%.


Symptoms may include:

    Body aches.

  • Weakness and fatigue.

  • Dry cough.

  • Fever.

As the disease progresses, you may experience:

    High fever.

  • Chest discomfort.

  • Neck swelling.

  • Trouble breathing.

  • Shock.

  • Meningitis — a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.


    Isolation of Bacillus anthracis from a clinical specimen, or

  • Anthrax electrophoretic immunotransblot (EITB) reaction to the protectiveantigen and/or lethal factor bands in one or more serum samples obtainedafter onset of symptoms, or

  • Demonstration of B. anthracis in a clinical specimen by immunofluorescence.


The emergency department workup includes rapid initiation of intravenous antibiotic therapy. If risk of exposure is considerable, initiate PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).

Antibiotics may include:


  • Doxycycline.

  • Chloramphenicol.

  • Clarithromycin.

  • Clindamycin.

  • Imipenem and Cilastatin.

  • Penicillin.

  • Rifampin.

  • Vancomycin.

However, although antibiotics kill the anthrax bacteria, by the time characteristic symptoms appear, the bacteria are multiplying wildly in the bloodstream. The massive amounts of toxins produced by these bacteria circulate throughout the bloodstream and cannot be eliminated by killing the bacteria. Antibiotics do not affect the circulating toxin.

Vaccine: The human anthrax vaccine is an immune system stimulant that allows the body to form protective antibodies against anthrax bacteria. Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA) is made from bacterial antigens as a cell-free filtrate. It does not contain live bacteria capable of producing disease. First licensed for general use in 1970, it is currently manufactured and distributed by BioPort, Corporation, Lansing, Michigan. This vaccine has been FDA-approved as a standard vaccination, which means it is has not been experimental or investigational since 1970. The vaccine also contains tiny amounts of aluminum hydroxide to help stimulate the immune system. Human anthrax vaccines are different than those for animals, which contain live, but weakened bacteria. The human and animal forms are not interchangeable.

Important: Risk and benefits of medications must be carefully discussed with your physician before taking any of the medications. Side effects positive.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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