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Anthrax is the preferred biological warfare
It is highly lethal.
100 million lethal doses per gram
of anthrax material (100,000 times deadlier than
the deadliest chemical warfare agent).
Silent, invisible killer.
Inhalational anthrax is virtually
There are low barriers to production.
Low cost of producing the anthrax
Not high-technology. Knowledge is
Easy to produce in large quantities.
It is easy to weaponize.
It is extremely stable. It can be
stored almost indefinitely as a dry powder.
It can be loaded, in a freeze-dried
condition, in munitions or disseminated as an
aerosol with crude sprayers.
Currently, we have a limited detection capability.
What is Anthrax?
||also called splenic
fever, malignant pustule , or woolsorters'
disease acute, specific, infectious, febrile
disease of animals, including humans, caused
by Bacillus anthracis, an organism
that under certain conditions forms highly
resistant spores capable of persisting and
retaining their virulence in contaminated
soil or other material for many years. A disease
chiefly of herbivores (grass eaters), the
infection may be acquired by persons handling
the wool, hair, hides, bones, or carcasses
of affected animals.
Anthrax is a naturally occurring disease of plant
eating animals (goats, sheep, cattle, wine, etc.)
caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis.
It is an illness which has been recognized since
antiquity. Anthrax was common in essentially all
areas where livestock are raised. Intensive livestock
immunization programs have greatly reduced the
occurrence of the disease among both animals and
humans in much of the world, an most outbreaks
occur in areas where immunization programs have
not been implemented or have become compromised
(primarily Africa and Asia; however, outbreaks
occurred during the mid- I 990's in Haiti and
the former Soviet Union).
Anthrax spores can remain viable for several decades
under suitable environmental conditions; thus,
absence of cases does not equate to absence of
Humans can contract anthrax in three ways:
Through cuts or breaks in the skin
resulting from contact with an infected animal
(cutaneous anthrax), resulting in local and possibly
systemic (bloodstream) infection.
From breathing anthrax spores (termed
"woolsorters" disease) resulting in
an infection of the lungs (inhalational anthrax).
From eating infected meat, resulting
in gastrointestinal infection (gastrointestinal
anthrax). Gastrointestinal anthrax is generally
not considered a threat to U.S. forces.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of anthrax begin after a 1 to 6 day incubation
period following exposure.
For contact or cutaneous anthrax, itching will
occur at the site of exposure followed by the
formation of a lesion. Untreated contact anthrax
has a fatality rate of 5-20 percent, but with
effective antibiotic treatment, few deaths occur.
Initial symptoms for inhalational anthrax are
generally non-specific: low grade fever, a dry
hacking cough, and weakness. The person may briefly
improve after 2 to 4 days; however within 24 hours
after this brief improvement, respiratory distress
occurs with shock and death following shortly
Almost all cases of inhalational anthrax, in which
treatment was begun after patients have exhibited
symptoms, have resulted in death, regardless of
What is the medical countermeasure?
Prior to exposure, prevention through vaccination,
using the FDA-licensed vaccine. Link to nbc-med.org
with information about the Anthrax
Otherwise, antibiotics such as penicillin, ciprofloxacin,
and doxycycline are the drugs of choice for treatment
Treatment with antibiotics must begin prior to
the onset of symptoms and must include vaccination
prior to discontinuing their use.
The use of antibiotics keep the patient alive
until their body can build an immunity to anthrax
via vaccination. After symptoms appear however,
inhalational anthrax is almost always fatal, regardless