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Retrospective Analysis of Official Data on Anthrax in Europe with a Special Reference to Ukraine

Anthrax is an acute infectious zoonotic disease caused by Bacillus anthracis that mostly affects grazing livestock and wildlife. Furthermore, B. anthracis is considered one of the most important biological agents of bioterrorism that could also be potentially misused in biological weapons. The distribution of anthrax in domestic animals and wildlife in Europe with a particular focus on Ukraine as a country of war was analyzed. Between 2005 and 2022, 267 anthrax cases were registered at the World Organization of Animal Health (WOAH) in animals in Europe, including 251 cases in domestic animals and 16 in wildlife. The highest numbers of cases were recorded in 2005 and 2016 followed by 2008, and the highest numbers of registered cases were reported from Albania, Russia, and Italy. In Ukraine, anthrax is currently a sporadic infection. Since 2007, 28 notifications were registered, with isolates mainly from soil samples. The highest number of confirmed anthrax cases was registered in 2018, and Odesa, which is close to Moldova, had the highest number of cases, followed by the Cherkasy region. The presence of thousands of biothermal pits and burial grounds of fallen cattle nationwide favors the re-emergence of new foci. Most confirmed cases were in cattle; however, single cases were confirmed in dogs, horses, and pigs. Further investigation of the disease in wildlife and in environmental samples is needed. The genetic analysis of isolates, investigation of susceptibility to antimicrobial compounds, and determination of virulence and pathogenicity factors are required in this volatile region of the world for awareness raising and preparedness.



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