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Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo

Print version ISSN 0036-4665

Abstract

MAGUINA, Ciro et al. Cutaneous anthrax in Lima, Peru: retrospective analysis of 71 cases, including four with a meningoencephalic complication. Rev. Inst. Med. trop. S. Paulo [online]. 2005, vol.47, n.1, pp. 25-30. ISSN 0036-4665.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0036-46652005000100005.

Anthrax is a zoonosis produced by Bacillus anthracis, and as an human infection is endemic in several areas in the world, including Peru. More than 95% of the reported naturally acquired infections are cutaneous, and approximately 5% of them can progress to meningoencephalitis. In this study we review the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of the patients with diagnosis of cutaneous anthrax evaluated between 1969 and 2002 at the Hospital Nacional Cayetano Heredia (HNCH) and the Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander von Humboldt in Lima, Peru. Seventy one patients were included [49/71 (69%) of them men], with a mean age of 37 years. The diagnoses were classified as definitive (44%) or probable (56%). The most common occupation of the patients was agriculture (39%). The source of infection was found in 63 (88.7%) patients. All the patients had ulcerative lesions, with a central necrosis. Most of the patients (65%) had several lesions, mainly located in the upper limbs (80%). Four patients (5.6%) developed meningoencephalitis, and three of them eventually died. In conclusion, considering its clinical and epidemiological characteristics, cutaneous anthrax must be included in the differential diagnosis of skin ulcers. A patient with clinical suspicion of the disease should receive effective treatment soon, in order to avoid neurological complications which carry a high fatality rate.

Keywords : Anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; Cutaneous anthrax; Anthrax meningitis; Peru.

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