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Atefa Noorain
Atefa Noorain
July27/ 2016

Anthrax is an infection caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. The life-threatening disease is known to affect goats, cattle, sheep and horses.  Anthrax is transmitted to humans when they come in direct contact with the infected animals or their products.  Bacillus anthracis is also referred to as spore forming bacterium.  Anthrax disease is not transmitted from person to person.


Bacillus anthracis is the causative agent of anthrax. Infected animals are the main cause of anthrax infection in humans. Animal acquire anthrax through the spore formed by bacteria in the soil. The spores remain dormant for years.  Anthrax spores can survive for more than 48 years in the soil. Humans are suffering with anthrax is due to the result of exposure to the infected animals or their meat products. People who use animal skin in their daily routine are more prone to anthrax infection.


Most people show visible symptoms within seven days of exposure to the bacterium. In few cases visible symptoms are seen after few weeks of exposure to the bacterium.  Anthrax disease is classified into different types based on the route of infection.

  1. Cutaneous anthrax

    – Person with open wounds are more prone to suffer with cutaneous anthrax. The skin acts as a common soured to transmit the infection. Cutaneous anthrax patients experience raised, itchy bumps on the skin resembling the insect bite. These bumps can develop into painless sore with black canter.

  2. Gastrointestinal anthrax

    Eating undercooked meat of an infected animal can lead to gastrointestinal anthrax. Gastrointestinal anthrax patients experience the following symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Bloody diarrhoea
  1. Pulmonary anthrax

    When the anthrax spores are inhaled by a healthy person, it can result in pulmonary anthrax. The symptoms includes

  • High fever
  • Nausea
  • Mild chest discomfort
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Meningitis
  1. Injection anthrax

    Injection anthrax is the most recently discovered route of infection. People suffer with injection anthrax after getting injected with illegal drugs. Injection anthrax cases are seen only in Europe so far. Patient suffering with injection anthrax experience following symptoms

  • Redness at the area of injection
  • Significant swelling at the area of injection
  • Multiple organ failure as the infection progresses
  • Meningitis



Anthrax can be prevented by taking certain drugs. In any case if you are exposed to anthrax spore, it is recommended to take antibiotics approved by Food and Drug Administration for prevention of anthrax in adults and children.


Anthrax vaccine is available in the market. Anthrax vaccine does not contain any live bacteria and do not lead to infection. There are certain side effects of vaccines. The side effects which you might observe after taking anthrax vaccination can range from soreness at the injection site to more complicated allergic reaction. Vaccines are not recommended for children or older adults.

Avoiding infected animal 

You need to avoid coming in direct contact with the animals that are not routinely vaccinated. Avoid direct contact with live stock and animal skin as much as possible in countries where anthrax is common.

Atefa Noorain
Atefa Noorain

Atefa Noorain, (Microbiologist) former Head of the Department of Life Sciences, Assistant Professor of Microbiology at Sujatha Degree College for Women. She worked as an Associate Research Analyst at Thomson Reuters and an Associate Editor of two research journals. She has presented her research work in 3 International Conferences. She has written articles for national journals and international journals. She had been felicitated as a Young Speaker in the last conference. She has worked on Nanoparticles as a part of her research project and won the Best Scientist of the Day award.

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