Anthrax is an acute infectious disease that came into the limelight recently due to the Anthrax Attacks in the United States in the weeks following the September 2001 terror attacks, causing widespread panic. This report on Anthrax includes information on how the disease is caused, types of Anthrax, symptoms of the disease and its treatment. It also includes information on the 2001 Anthrax attacks in the US and why anthrax is a good bioterrorism agent. How is Anthrax Caused?
Anthrax is caused by the bacterium ‘Bacillus anthracis’ that is highly lethal in its virulent form. Anthrax most commonly occurs in wild and domestic animals, but it can also occur in humans when they are exposed to infected animals, tissue from infected animals, or high concentrations of anthrax spores. Bacillus Anthracis
Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium which causes anthrax, is rod-shaped and about 1 by 6 micrometres in size. It was the first bacterium ever to be shown to cause disease by Robert Koch in 1877. The bacteria normally rest in spore form in the soil, and can survive for decades in this state. When ingested by a plant eating animal, the bacteria starts to multiply and eventually kills the animal. They even continue to reproduce in the carcass but eventually revert back to the dormant spore state when they run out of nutrients. (“Bacillus anthracis.”) Types of Anthrax and Ways in Which it can Infect Humans
There are three types of anthrax, classified according to how it enters the human body: 1. through the intestines (gastrointestinal)
2. through the lungs (inhalation), or
3. through the skin (cutaneous).
The anthrax infection caused by inhalation through the lungs initially causes cold or flu-like symptoms, followed by severe respiratory problems. It is the most deadly form of the disease with almost 100% mortality rate if treatment is not started before the onset of symptoms. A...
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