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Index of Anthrax Articles
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Standard defination of Anthrax at bottom of page

GIF Image, with standard explanation, of how anthrax works


Bacillus anthracis, the organism that causes anthrax, derives its name from the Greek word for coal, anthracis, because of its ability to cause black, coal-like cutaneous eschars.

Anthrax infection is a disease acquired following contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products or following the intentional release of anthrax spores as a biological weapon. [From a Johns Hopkins University web page]

From a CDC, FAQ Anthrax page: (October 18, 2001)
What should I know about anthrax?

Our course of action for preventing anthrax after exposure in the civilian population would be with antibiotics. Vaccination is not recommended, and the vaccine is not available to health care providers or the general public. We do not recommend that physicians prescribe antibiotics for anthrax at this time. We currently have enough antibiotics to prevent the disease in 2 million persons exposed to anthrax, therefore we could rapidly get preventive medicine to those who may be affected by this disease, which cannot be transmitted between people.

This GIF was found on my computer with a download date of 30 January 2002. Its name suggests it is from a BBC article, but the source was not located using Google.Com search. [bbc_1589753_anthrax3_300inf.gif]
Remember to consider not only the bacteria, but also the susceptability of the body which depends upon general health.
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(Page 1 , and part of page 2, of a 7 page document)
Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed, (BioThrax) is a sterile, milky-white suspension (when mixed) made from cell-free filtrates of microaerophilic cultures of an avirulent, nonencapsulated strain of Bacillus anthracis. The production cultures are grown in a chemically defined protein-free medium consisting of a mixture of amino acids, vitamins, inorganic salts and sugars. The final product, prepared from the sterile filtrate culture fluid contains proteins, including the 83kDa protective antigen protein, released during the growth period. The final product contains no dead or live bacteria. The final product is formulated to contain 1.2 mg/mL aluminum, added as aluminum hydroxide in 0.85% sodium chloride. The product is formulated to contain 25 mg/mL benzethonium chloride and 100 mg/mL formaldehyde, added as preservatives.

Anthrax occurs globally and is most common in agricultural regions with inadequate control programs for anthrax in livestock. Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by the Gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. The spore form of Bacillus anthracis is the predominant phase of the bacterium in the environment and it is largely through the upt ake of spores that anthrax disease is contracted. Spore forms are markedly resistant to heat, cold, pH, desiccation, chemicals and irradiation. Following germination at the site of infection, the bacilli can also enter the blood and lead to septicemia. Antibiotics are effective against the germinated form of Bacillus anthracis, but are not effective against the spore form of the organism.

The disease occurs most commonly in wild and domestic animals, primarily cattle, sheep, goats and other herbivores. In humans, anthrax disease can result from contact with animal hides, leather or hair products from contaminated animals, or from other exposures to Bacillus anthracis spores. It occurs in three forms depending upon the route of infection: cutaneous anthrax, gastrointestinal anthrax and inhalation anthrax.

Cutaneous anthrax is the most commonly reported form in humans (> 95% of all anthrax cases). It can occur when the bacterium enters a cut or abrasion on the skin, such as when handling contaminated meat, wool, hides, leather or hair products from infected animals or other contaminated materials. The symptoms of cutaneous anthrax begin with an itchy reddish-brown papule on exposed skin surfaces and may appear approximately 1-12 days after contact. The lesion soon develops a small vesicle. Secondary vesicles are sometimes seen. Later the vesicle ruptures and leaves a painless ulcer that typically develops a blackened eschar with surrounding swollen tissue. There are often associated systemic symptoms such as swollen glands, fever, myalgia, malaise, vomiting and headache. The case fatality rate for cutaneous anthrax is estimated to be 20% without antibiotic treatment.

Gastrointestinal anthrax usually begins 1-7 days after ingestion of meat contaminated with anthrax spores. There is acute inflammation of the intestinal tract with nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting and fever followed by abdominal pain, vomiting of blood and bloody diarrhea. There can also be involvement of the pharynx with sore throat, dysphagia, fever, lesions at the base of the tongue or tonsils and regional lymphadenopathy. The case fatality rate is unknown but estimated to be 25% to 60%.

Inhalation (pulmonary) anthrax has been reported to occur from 1-43 days after exposure to aerosolized spores.1 Studies in rhesus monkeys indicate that a small number of inhaled spores may remain viable for at least 100 days following exposure.2 However, information on how long spores remain viable in the lungs of humans is unavailable and the incubation period for inhalation anthrax is unknown. Initial symptoms are non-specific and may include sore throat, mild fever, myalgia, coughing and chest discomfort lasting up to a few days. The second stage develops abruptly with findings such as sudden onset of fever, acute respiratory distress with pulmonary edema and pleural effusion followed by cyanosis, shock and coma. Meningitis is common. The fatality rate for inhalation anthrax in the U.S. is estimated to be approximately 45% to 90%. From 1900 to October 2001, there were 18 identified cases of inhalation anthrax in the U.S., the latest of which was reported in 1976, with an 89% (16/18) mortality rate. Most of these exposures occurred in industrial settings, i.e., textile mills.3 From October 4, 2001, to December 5, 2001, a total of 11 cases of inhalation anthrax linked to intentional dissemination of Bacillus anthracis spores were identified in the U.S. Five of these cases were fatal.4

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