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Human exposure to naturally occurring Bacillus anthracis in the Kars region of Eastern Türkiye

Buyuk, Fatih, Dyson, Hugh, Laws, Thomas R., Celebi, Ozgur, Doganay, Mehmet, Sahin, Mitat and Baillie, Les ORCID: 2024. Human exposure to naturally occurring Bacillus anthracis in the Kars region of Eastern Türkiye. Microorganisms 12 (1) , 167. 10.3390/microorganisms12010167

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Environmental contamination with Bacillus anthracis spores poses uncertain threats to human health. We undertook a study to determine whether inhabitants of the anthrax-endemic region of Kars in eastern Türkiye could develop immune responses to anthrax toxins without recognised clinical infection. We measured anti-PA and anti-LF IgG antibody concentrations by ELISA in serum from 279 volunteers, 105 of whom had previously diagnosed anthrax infection (100 cutaneous, 5 gastrointestinal). Of the 174 without history of infection, 72 had prior contact with anthrax-contaminated material. Individuals were classified according to demographic parameters, daily working environment, and residence type. All villages in this study had recorded previous animal or human anthrax cases. Stepwise regression analyses showed that prior clinical infection correlated strongly with concentrations at the upper end of the ranges observed for both antibodies. For anti-PA, being a butcher and duration of continuous exposure risk correlated with high concentrations, while being a veterinarian or shepherd, time since infection, and town residence correlated with low concentrations. For anti-LF, village residence correlated with high concentrations, while infection limited to fingers or thumbs correlated with low concentrations. Linear discriminant analysis identified antibody concentration profiles associated with known prior infection. Profiles least typical of prior infection were observed in urban dwellers with known previous infection and in veterinarians without history of infection. Four individuals without history of infection (two butchers, two rural dwellers) had profiles suggesting unrecognised prior infection. Healthy humans therefore appear able to tolerate low-level exposure to environmental B. anthracis spores without ill effect, but it remains to be determined whether this exposure is protective. These findings have implications for authorities tasked with reducing the risk posed to human health by spore-contaminated materials and environments.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Pharmacy
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 2076-2607
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 January 2024
Date of Acceptance: 20 December 2023
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2024 12:31

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