Animal Anthrax in Georgia

Animals in Georgia

APHI collaborator Dr. Debby Reynolds, Dr. Sangeeta Rao, and Dr. Mo Salman currently are working together with several additional institutions on a field project to investigate anthrax in animals in the country of Georgia. In Georgia, an increase in the number of cases of anthrax reported in animals and humans has been observed during the past decade. Since 2007 there have been 92 officially reported cases of anthrax in cattle, sheep, horse, and pig, and a total of 358 human cases. In 2012 the trend showed a 4-fold increase of human cases compared to the average since 2000. In 2012 an epidemiologic investigation of human anthrax cases by the Georgia National Centers for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), the USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and CDC South Caucasus Field Epidemiology Training Program demonstrated a strong association with disposal of dead animals, contact with sick animals and participation in animal slaughter or ownership.

APHI has been working with the National Food Agency (NFA) since its establishment in 2009. APHI's main task has been to improve Georgia's National Animal Health Program. Control of anthrax is now an ongoing part of the National Animal Health Program in Georgia. Prophylactic vaccination of animals by the NFA as a preventive measure, which effectively ceased during 2008, was restarted in 2012. There is however a knowledge gap regarding the specific and most important exposure and risk factors associated with the occurrence and the spread of anthrax in animals within the country.

An unmatched case-control investigation was designed to compare cases and unaffected control animals in one of the target livestock species cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and horses or donkeys. This work is being conducted in order to provide a clear understanding of the epidemiology, and the exposure and risk factors associated with the occurrence and the spread of anthrax in animals in Georgia. Information obtained in this investigation is expected to be used to optimize prevention and control strategies including vaccination of livestock. This project is further intended to identify gaps in the identification, notification and reporting of cases of animal anthrax in order to strengthen the national system for anthrax surveillance.

The primary investigating institution for this project is the National Food Agency in Tbilisi, Georgia. In addition to APHI, collaborating institutions include the Georgia National Centers for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), the US CDC Georgia Office, the US CDC National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.