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Rancher falls ill with anthrax after slaughtering and eating dead lamb

A rancher slaughtered a lamb on his property in Texas on Christmas Eve, which suddenly died (Image: Shutterstock)

A cattle rancher became infected with anthrax after dismembering and eating a lamb that died unexpectedly on his property.

The 50 to 59-year-old man had “slaughtered a lamb that suddenly died on his ranch in Texas” on Christmas Eve, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report.

Eleven days later, the rancher went to the hospital because he was suffering from a black scab on his right wrist, blisters on his right arm, severe edema, leukocytosis, fever, and an elevated white blood cell count.

Initially, the rancher was not suspected of having anthrax. However, the disease was only diagnosed after a three-day course of antibiotics had no effect.

The rancher was hospitalized because he had a black scab on his right wrist, blisters on his right arm, extensive edema, leukocytosis, fever, and an elevated white blood cell count.
The rancher was hospitalized because he had a black scab on his right wrist, blisters on his right arm, extensive edema, leukocytosis, fever and an elevated white blood cell count (Image: Shutterstock)

He recovered and was discharged from the hospital after a week.

However, this case prompted CDC investigators to look more closely at the cause of the disease, since anthrax outbreaks in animals typically occur during hot, dry weather in the summer rather than in the winter.

Anthrax is a rare but serious infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacteria. Bacillus anthracis“And can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected animal skin or hair,” the CDC explains.

The lamb was healthy and showed no signs of illness before its death, according to the report released Thursday. It was seasoned and cooked by the rancher and another person and eaten by five people.

Five people ate the dead lamb and only the rancher fell ill with anthrax
Five people ate the dead lamb and only the rancher became ill with anthrax (Image: Shutterstock)

Only the cattle rancher became ill with anthrax. The other people did not show any symptoms of gastrointestinal anthrax.

“The lamb was suspected as the cause of the patient's illness, also in view of the suspicion of anthrax,” the report said.

While the rancher was in the hospital, two sheep on his farm died and suffered eye and nose bleeding. According to the report, “there remained a strong clinical and epidemiological suspicion of anthrax” in connection with their deaths.

The identity of the rancher was not disclosed.

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