Anthrax

Book an Appointment

Overview

Anthrax is caused by a spore-forming bacterium. It mainly affects animals. Humans can become infected through contact with an infected animal or by inhaling spores.

Symptoms depend on the route of infection. They can range from a skin ulcer with a dark scab to difficulty breathing.

Antibiotic treatment cures most infections. Inhaled anthrax is harder to treat and can be fatal.Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. It occurs naturally in soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world. People can get sick with anthrax if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

Symptoms

Fever and chills.

Swelling of neck or neck glands.

Sore throat.

Painful swallowing.

Hoarseness.

Nausea and vomiting, especially bloody vomiting.

Diarrhea or bloody diarrhea.

Headache.

Causes

Anthrax (AN-thraks) is an infectious disease caused by exposure to Bacillus anthracis bacteria. The bacteria are dormant, or inactive, in soil. Anthrax mostly affects animals that graze on land that has the bacteria. People can become infected through inhaled bacteria spores, contaminated food or water, or skin wounds.

People get infected with anthrax when spores get into the body. When this happens, the spores can be activated and become anthrax bacteria. Then the bacteria can multiply, spread out in the body, produce toxins (poisons), and cause severe illness.

Risk factors

Anthrax is a severe, although rather rare, infectious disease that is caused by the Gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. The infectious form is the spore and the major virulence factors of the bacterium are its poly-γ-D-glutamic acid capsule and the tripartite anthrax toxin.

Although rare, people can get anthrax after having contact with infected animals or their products, such as wool, hides, or hair. For this reason, people in certain occupations, like veterinarians, farmers, livestock producers, and others who handle animals and animal products may have an increased risk of exposure.

Calendar Schedule

Have a medical question?

We are available to help you with all your questions and concerns.

Complications

The most serious complications of anthrax include: Your body being unable to respond to infection normally, leading to damage of multiple organ systems (sepsis) Inflammation of the membranes and fluid covering the brain and spinal cord, leading to massive bleeding (hemorrhagic meningitis) and death.

Prevention

Anthrax is rare, and most people will never be exposed to it. There is a vaccine licensed to prevent anthrax, but it is only recommended for routine use in certain groups of at-risk adults (for example, some members of the military and laboratory workers).

 You can reduce your risk of anthrax by having the anthrax vaccine . The only anthrax vaccine that's approved by the FDA is the Biothrax vaccine. When used as a preventive measure, it's a five-dose vaccine series given over an 18-month period.Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA) protects against anthrax. It does not contain any anthrax bacteria and cannot give people anthrax. It is not typically available to the general public.