Microbiology

What is Anthrax



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There are many questions brought to our minds about anthrax. Some have questions as to what anthrax really is, how you come in contact with it, how common it is, how it's transmitted, what the symptoms are, so on and so forth. This article will hopefully provide you with information you have had questions about.

Anthrax is a disease that is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It is usually found in wild and domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes, etc. When humans are exposed to animals that are infected with this disease, they can too become infected with the disease.
Being that anthrax isn't very common in the United States, we aren't very prone to getting the bacteria. The only instance it occurs is in livestock and animals such as deer. It is most common in South and Central America, Southern and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. It is contracted when people are exposed to animals that are infected with the disease or products that they produce. When industrial workers are exposed to dead animals, they can develop a different kind of anthrax. This type is called B. anthracis (industrial anthrax).

Anthrax infection can occur in three forms: through the skin, through inhaling, and through the gastrointestines. B. anthracis spores can live in the body for a long time. It is very easy to become infected with the bacteria, as it is detected as easy as handling contaminated animal products. It can also be spread through eating uncooked animal products from infected animals, although there are few infected animals in the United States.

Depending on how anthrax is spread, symptoms can usually be seen 7 days after the contamination. Skin infections usually begin as an itchy bump that looks like an insect bite. After a few days, it turns into a painless bump with black in the center. Symptoms for inhalation include a common cold. Symptoms for gastrointestinal include nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever are followed by abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, and severe diarrhea. Although death from anthrax is not common, it can occur if it is not treated correctly.

Although it is not recommended for humans and only animals, there is a vaccine that can be given to the animals. The vaccine is a cell-free filtrate vaccine, which means it contains no dead or live bacteria in the preparation. This will prevent the animal from getting anthrax and spreading it.

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