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What is anthrax?
Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax most commonly occurs in warm-blooded animals, but can also infect man. Anthrax spores can be produced in a dry form (for biological warfare ) which may be stored and ground into particles. When inhaled by humans, these particles cause respiratory failure and death within a week.
Why has anthrax become a current issue?
Because anthrax is considered to be a potential agent for use in biological warfare, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced that it will begin systematic vaccination of all U.S. military personnel.
Who gets anthrax?
Anthrax is most common in agricultural regions where it occurs in animals. These include South and Central America, Southern and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. When anthrax affects humans, it is usually due to an occupational exposure to infected animals or their products. Workers who are exposed to dead animals and animal products (industrial anthrax) from other countries where anthrax is more common may become infected with B. anthracis. Anthrax in animals rarely occurs in the United States. Most reports of animal infection are received from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
How is anthrax transmitted?
Anthrax infection can occur in three forms: cutaneous (skin), inhalation, and gastrointestinal. B. anthracis spores can live in the soil for many years and humans can become infected with anthrax by handling animal products from infected animals or by inhaling anthrax spores from contaminated animal products. Anthrax can also be spread by eating undercooked meat from infected animals. It is rare to find infected animals in the United States.
What are the symptoms of anthrax?
Symptoms of disease vary depending on how the disease was contracted, but symptoms usually occur within seven days.
Cutaneous: Most anthra...