Also known as: anthrax infection, anthrax attack.

What is anthrax?

Anthrax is a bacterial infection. The bacteria is sometimes found in soil and infects animals more often than humans. However, the bacteria that causes anthrax can also be used as a weapon in terror attacks. The illness is severe and life-threatening.

What causes anthrax?

The bacteria that causes anthrax infection is known as Bacillus anthracis. People can get the infection through contact with an infected animal or animal products via the skin, lungs or digestive tract. The anthrax bacteria has also been weaponized and used in terror attacks to harm people.

What are the symptoms of anthrax?

If anthrax affects the skin, it can cause a large red brown spot that’s hard and blistered. This can be accompanied by fever, headache, vomiting and muscle aches and pains.

If anthrax is inhaled, the symptoms start similarly to the flu but quickly become severe and include chest pain, shortness of breath and coughing up blood. Shock, coma and death can follow without immediate treatment. If anthrax is eaten through contaminated meat, symptoms can include nausea, blood diarrhea and abdominal pain. It can also quickly become severe and deadly.

What are anthrax care options?

Anthrax is diagnosed by cultures. If detected and treated early, antibiotics can cure anthrax. The problem is the disease grows quickly and can be life-threatening without early treatment. People at risk of anthrax infection, such as military personnel, can receive a vaccine to protect them from exposure.

Reviewed by: P. Marcelo Laufer, MD

This page was last updated on: November 15, 2021 03:36 PM

Infectious Diseases

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