Agent Identification - Biological

Anthrax

Anthrax became a household word and concern in October of 2001 when several locations in Florida, New York and Connecticut reported infected people after the apparently deliberate exposure of postal care workers, business personnel and high profile news station and legislative personnel. 

The incubation period of anthrax is 2-60 days and contact can occur through the handling of infected spores, inhalation or ingestion.  The cutaneous form can occur naturally in agricultural venues beginning as a papule progressing to a coal black scab hence the name. 

The inhalation form of anthrax can result in a hemorrhagic mediastinitis when regional pulmonary lymph nodes are involved.  Ingestion and gastrointestinal exposure may result in ulcers and subsequent GI hemorrhage.  Overwhelming sepsis may lead to death. Current treatment includes fluoroquinolones such as ciprofloxacin, or doxycycline.  Vaccines are currently only available for those in high risk occupations.

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