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HOME > Korean J Prev Med > Volume 22(2); 1989 > Article
Original Article Epidemiologic Investigation for the Etiology of an Epidemic Ocurred among Animals and Humans in an Isolated Island, Korea (I).
J S Kim, Y Heo, H Y Yoon, W Y Lee
Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 1989;22(2):290-301
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1Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Korea.
2Department of Microbiology, Yonsei Medical College, Korea.

This is preliminary report on anthrax epidemic occurred in an island with about 100 residents. Since 1982 there had been sudden deaths among all kinds of domestic animals including cattle, dogs, ducks, chicken and goat but only a few among cats in an isolated island about three hours distance away by ferry boat from Mokpo city. From 1986 through 1988 nine human deaths and four patients occurred, which made the government intervene for investigation on June 25 1988. The epidemiological investigation consisted of interview survey and medical examination, medical record analysis, laboratory work to isolate the pathogens under the direction of hypothesis derived from the study and further confirmation of the pathogens by international institute. The summarized results are as followings: 1. According to the interview survey there were many deaths among domestic animals usually in cold and dry season such as January through March and September through November; 36 heads of cattle leaving one head, more than 40 hogs(all), hundreds of chicken leaving few alive, goats that had taken home from mountain and two or three cats out of around 40 had sudden deaths from 1982 till 1985, when the residents stopped to purchase and take them into the island anymore. Also there were eleven persons who had experienced the similar syndrome complex to those of admitted and expired patients and four of them revealed typical chest X-ray findings; from one to these four patients(Rho) B. anthracis is isolated. 2. Medical record on patients who had been admitted, showed common characteristics of the disease course. On admission they had either gastrointestinal or upper respiratory infection symptoms which invariably progressed to septicemic nature with pulmonary interstitial infiltration and mediastinal widening/bulging, and then to deadly acute respiratory distress syndrome. At the end stage chest X-ray revealed multiple bullous emphysema. One of another characteristics was oral ulceration with bleeding occurred in about 50% of the patients. Laboratory test results in common were leukocytosis with left shift and abnormal liver and kidney functions, particularly at the later stage of the illness. 3. Epidemiological characteristics was striking in that both mortality and incidence rates were high; the mortality rate was 8.7% average, male being three times higher than females but there was no distinctive clustering by age group. The incidence rate for both sexes was 28.2% and there was no sex difference although a tendency of higher incidence among older ages was noticed. The highest mortality and incidence were observed in Won village where the first death of animal occurred and with the highest frequency among three village of the island. 4. Among twelve bacilli species isolated from various specimens, two strains, one from patient and the other from soil where the recently died cow is buried, were confirmed as B. anthracis by Pasteur Institute and CDC of USA(strain from soil). CDC reported that the strain did not produce capsule in bicarbonate media but reacted with the bacteriophage and one of five sera taken from the patients. Mode of transmission as well as incubation period of the agent has not been established yet, which needs further investigation in relation to the antigenic structure of the variant when it is confirmed.

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JPMPH : Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health