Munson Health
 
Anthrax

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by Wood D
 

Symptoms

Symptoms usually start within a few days of exposure. They vary depending on the type of disease.

Cutaneous Symptoms

Symptoms may occur in stages:
  • Raised bump, like an insect bite, that is itchy and round
  • Raised area opens, forming an ulcer with a black area in the center and producing drainage of clear or pinkish fluid
  • Swelling around the wound
  • Swollen, painful lymph nodes

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

These symptoms will depend on the location of the lesions. Mouth and throat lesions can cause:
These symptoms will depend on the location of the lesions. Mouth and throat lesions can cause:
Lesions in the intestines can cause:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody diarrhea
 

Prevention

It is difficult to tell if you have been exposed. Anthrax is colorless and has no smell or taste. Seek medical care if you suspect that you have had contact with anthrax. Antibiotics may be able to prevent infection following exposure. There is a vaccine to prevent anthrax. It requires multiple shots and is only partially effective. The vaccine is not recommended for the general population. It is routinely given to military personnel.
Strategies to prevent exposure to anthrax include:
  • Avoid contact with infected animals or animal products.
  • Do not touch fluid draining from an anthrax wound.
  • Handle suspicious mail properly:
    • Do not open mail from an unknown source.
    • Do not shake packages.
    • Do not smell or taste contents.
    • Put the parcel down and immediately wash your hands with soap and warm water.
    • Call local law enforcement.
 

RESOURCES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

US Army Surgeon General's Office Anthrax Vaccine Information Program
http://www.anthrax.osd.mil

US Department of Health and Human Services
http://www.hhs.gov

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

BC Centre for Disease Control
http://www.bccdc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

 

References


Anthrax. DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 15, 2013. Accessed May 15, 2013.


Anthrax. Center for Disease Control CDC website. Available at: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/anthrax. Accessed May 15, 2013.


Anthrax. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/anthrax/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed May 15, 2013.


Consensus statement: anthrax as a biological weapon: medical and public health management. JAMA. 1999;281.


Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 5th ed. Churchill Livingstone Inc; 2000.


Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6th ed. Churchill Livingstone Inc; 2005.


Use of anthrax vaccine in the United States: recommendations of the advisory committee on immunization practices (ACIP). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2000 Dec 15.

 

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