Date: Fri 4 Jul 2014
Source: Xinhua News Agency [edited]
A total of 6 people have been hospitalized with anthrax poisoning in Debrecen [Hajdu-Bihar county] in eastern Hungary, the head of the Kenezy hospital's contagious diseases section told local wire service MTI on Friday [4 Jul 2014]. Earlier reports from the State Public Health and Medical Service and the National Food Safety Office had mentioned 5 such cases.
Hungary's official health services announced the infections on Friday, saying that the anthrax bacteria had come from cattle. They reported that a farm in nearby Tiszafured [Jasz-Nagykun-Szolnok county] had slaughtered 2 animals which showed clear symptoms of illness earlier in the week. Farm officials did not report the slaughter to animal health authorities as required and instead processed the meat for human consumption.
Some of the meat was distributed among family members and some was sold to a small company that provided hot meals to a number of facilities including childcare institutions, with both buyers and sellers skirting public health laws.
Dr. Istvan Varkonyi of Kenezy hospital reported that all anthrax patients were being treated with antibiotics and all stood a good chance of recovery. The hospital, he added, is also ready to receive additional anthrax patients since the people who participated in the slaughter and dressing of the meat as well as anyone who ate any of the beef was at risk.
Preventive measures ordered by authorities included the antibiotic treatment of all people who had come in contact with the infected cattle as well as of all animals kept in their vicinity. If antibiotic treatment for anthrax infections is begun early enough it can be treated well, officials told MTI.
In parliament, meanwhile, MSZP [Hungarian Socialist Party] MP Zoltan Gogos charged authorities with gross negligence in failing to report the anthrax infection for several days, adding that to his knowledge the 1st hospitalization was 3 or 4 days ago, noting that anthrax does not spread from human to human, had authorities acted immediately, the hospitalizations could have been avoided, he said.
Gogos also claimed that the sick animals had been brought into Hungary illegally, and that the people who imported and slaughtered them were aware that they were ill. He suggested possible political implications, arguing that the owner of the farm was a supporter of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Gogos pointed to several cases of botulism poisoning from Hungarian-processed foods over the past few weeks and suggested that Hungary might be having serious food-safety problems.
[I suspect that Zoltan Gogos is merely taking advantage of the situation to try to embarrass the Prime Minister. As Jasz-Nagykun-Szolnok county is close by but not on the Romanian border, all we need to do is note a possible porous border problem and log it away when considering other livestock problems which may be more common in Romania than Hungary.
The account of how and why the frozen meat was in commercial circulation is now clearer though not surprising, and something all of us have seen at one time or another. The previous report had in-contact livestock being vaccinated, not treated with antibiotics. Whatever is being done, the village livestock need to be vaccinated some 7-10 days after any antibiotic treatment, and arrangements made to repeat this vaccination in 2015 and 2016.
To find Tiszafured, go to:
[A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at: