What is anthrax?
Anthrax is a serious disease caused by a bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. A bacterium is a very small organism made up of one cell. This bacterium forms spores. A spore is a cell that is dormant (asleep) but may come to life in certain conditions.
Anthrax can cause three forms of disease: 1) cutaneous ( skin); 2) gastrointestinal (digestive system); and 3) inhalational anthrax (lungs)
How can someone come into contact with anthrax?
Anthrax is not known to spread from person to person.
Anthrax as a weapon: Anthrax also can be used as a weapon. In 2001, anthrax was deliberately spread by letters mailed through the U.S. Postal Service. Letters containing powder with anthrax caused 22 cases of anthrax infection; 11 of these cases were cutaneous anthrax and 11 were inhalational anthrax.
Please note: Just because you come into contact with anthrax does not mean you will get sick from it.
What happens if someone gets sick from anthrax?
How likely is someone to die from anthrax?
What is the treatment for anthrax?
Antibiotics are used to treat anthrax. Early identification and treatment are important. Treatment is different for a person who comes into contact with anthrax, but is not yet displaying symptoms (fever, sweating, low blood pressure, dizziness).
People who are sick from anthrax do not need to be isolated.
Is there a vaccine for anthrax?
Yes, a vaccine has been developed for anthrax. It is not meant for the general public at this time. It is primarily given to military personnel. The vaccine is recommended only for those at high risk, such as workers in research labs who handle anthrax bacteria.
What should be done if someone comes into contact with anthrax?
If you think that you or someone you know may have come into contact with any type of anthrax, call your health care provider and contact the local county health department right away. (Visit http://www.idph.state.il.us/local/alpha.htm for a listing of all county health departments in Illinois or check your local phone book.)
If you suspect you have received, handled or been around a suspicious package or envelope that may contain anthrax powder. Contact 911 or your local law enforcement. Further information and a checklist and action plans can be found on the IEMA website at http://www.illinois.gov/ready/hazards/pages/SuspiciousMail.aspx.
If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of anthrax infection, call your health care provider. You also may contact the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Where can one get more information about anthrax?