Anthrax Fact Sheet
What is Anthrax?
Anthrax is a spore-forming bacterium. In nature it most commonly occurs in mammals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and camels, but can also occur in humans when they are exposed to infected animals or exposed directly with the bacterium. Infected animals are very rarely found in the United States.
How is anthrax transmitted?
Anthrax is not contagious; it cannot be transmitted from person-to-person. Anthrax infection can occur in three forms: cutaneous (skin), inhalation (lung), and gastrointestinal. Cutaneous anthrax is a result of the anthrax spores getting rubbed into abraded skin. This form is very treatable with antibiotics. Inhalation anthrax infection may resemble the flu, but leads to severe breathing problems and shock after several days. If treated early there is a better chance of survival. In order for the anthrax spores to become aerosolized, they must be chemically altered, which takes a great level of sophisticated technology. The gastrointestinal anthrax infection is caused by the ingestion of contaminated meat, and is characterized by an acute inflammation of the intestinal tract. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and fever, followed by abdominal pain, vomiting blood, and severe diarrhea.
What is the treatment?
Health care professionals can prescribe effective antibiotics if necessary. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Public Health Service recommend antibiotics not be given unless there is a confirmed exposure to anthrax.
If you have questions, or would like more information contact:
State Health Department hot line: 1-877-PA-HEALTH
Local State Health Department: 717-243-5151
Dickinson College Health Center: 717-245-1835
Carlisle Regional Medical Center: 717-245-5505
CDC Website: http://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/anthrax/