• Anthrax

    Bacillus anthracisAnthrax is a disease caused by a bacterium (germ) called Bacillus anthracis. It usually affects animals or people who take care of animals. A bioterrorist attack might release anthrax into the air. This would cause inhalation anthrax, which results when people breathe in anthrax spores. Anthrax is not contagious, so it cannot be passed from person-to-person. Between two and 60 days after someone is exposed to anthrax, the spores begin to multiply and cause flu-like symptoms, fever and difficulty breathing. If untreated, inhalation anthrax is fatal in 90 percent of those infected, but there are antibiotics that are effective if taken early.

    Because inhalation anthrax is so rare, any identified cases will be closely studied. Doctors will notify public health officials, and areas where the patient has been recently will be tested. In addition, others who are likely to have been exposed will be notified and informed about testing and treatment. In an anthrax outbreak, not everyone who was exposed at the same time will get sick at the same time. Once health officials believe someone has been exposed, the individual needs to be on antibiotics for several weeks to be sure he or she doesn't become ill.

    Anthrax Fact Sheet (from Lahey Clinic's Center for Infectious Diseases) - download PDF 

    Anthrax Fact Sheet (CDC) - download PDF 

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