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Anthrax

Anthrax bacteriaAnthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. It forms spores that can be found naturally in soil, commonly affecting domestic and wild animals around the world. Although it is rare in the United States, people can get sick with anthrax if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

When anthrax spores get inside the body, the bacteria can multiply, spread out in the body, produce toxins (poisons), and cause severe illness.  Anthrax can enter the body through the skin (cutaneous); through ingesting contaminated food or water (gastrointestinal); intravenously (rare); or by inhalation, the deadliest form of the disease and the one most likely to be used as a biological weapon.

The anthrax vaccine has been licensed in the U.S. since 1970, and has been proven safe and effective at preventing anthrax disease, regardless of the route of exposure.  The immunization is required for deployment to U.S. Central Command and the Korean Peninsula, as well as for designated NORTHCOM personnel, emergency response and other units.  It is given in a five-dose series at 0, 4 weeks, 6 months, 12 months and 18 months, with yearly boosters to maintain immunity.

Vaccination and antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, and amoxicillin, are the most important therapeutic interventions for any form of anthrax exposure.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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