Anthrax is a very real and dangerous threat to all people who come in contact with it. The bacterial infection is caused by the bacteriaium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax is divided into three categories all are contracted in different ways. The first type is called Cutaneous Anthrax; this is where anthrax spores make contact with the skin. If there is a cut or a lesion then a person can be infected. Cutaneous Anthrax is the most common way to get anthrax, but is also the least lethal.
The second type of anthrax is called Pulmonary Anthrax this is where a person inhales the spores of anthrax directly into the lungs. If this type of anthrax is left untreated it could lead to death. The third type of anthrax is called Gastrointestinal Anthrax, this form results from eating meat from animals that have been infected with the anthrax bacteria. This causes the intestinal tract to become infected and this from is almost always fatal. This particular mode of anthrax has never been seen in the United States.
Humans are not the only ones who can be infected with Anthrax; livestock can also be infected with the bacteria. Animals such as cattle, sheep, or goats infected with anthrax will display the following symptoms; weakness, staggering fever, and difficulty breathing. These animals will also experience blood stained or tarry discharge from the nose or anus that continues to ooze even after the animal dies. When humans become infected with anthrax there are a multitude of symptoms that they experience. First they will develop a fever, accompanied with general discomfort, uneasiness and headaches. Next they will undergo shortness of breath, cough, and congestion of the nose and throat, which will ultimately lead to pneumonia.
They will also feel stiffness and pain in their joints. Anthrax can be treated in two ways through antibiotics and vaccines. If caught in the early stages antibiotics are useful in killing the B. anthracis as it tries to reproduce in both humans and animals. The second method of treatment is useful only when the individual receives treatment prior to being infected with Anthrax. Before an individual is infected with anthrax they can receive a vaccine that is very useful in combating the bacterium. Vaccines are currently licensed for limited use.
People who are considered eligible for the vaccine are members of the military, veterinarians, laboratory workers, livestock handlers, and abattoir (slaughterhouse) workers. This prevention measure protects against the anthrax disease. When an individual receives the vaccine since it does not contain any B. anthracis cells the person does not run the risk of being infected. The vaccine can also be used on cattle where anthrax infection rates are high. Besides vaccines there are other prevention methods they include developing a national strategy to deal with anthrax, increase in help for overwhelmed hospitals funding for drugs and vaccines work with allies to eliminate bio terrorism. If an actual anthrax attack should occur the efficiency and speed of treating those who where infected is crucial It is estimated that 10,000 lives would be lost for every hour that is wasted.
Make sure people that people keep taking antibiotics even after the initial panic is over. Although an attack is unlikely it is still better to be over prepared especial when talking about some thing that could be so devastating to the untied states.