Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Study finds way to disarm dangerous bacteria

In Australia, more than 10,000 patients a year acquire a serious bacterial infection called Clostridioides difficile, often while in hospital, resulting in the death of up to 300 people per year. The Centers for Disease Control ...

Medical research

Scientists describe how anthrax toxins cause illness, death

Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, both part of the National Institutes of Health, have identified the cells in two distinct ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

CDC issues tough report on anthrax scare

(HealthDay)—U.S. health officials have concluded that it's highly unlikely any lab workers were exposed to live anthrax during a safety mishap last month.

Medical research

Combination vaccine developed for smallpox and anthrax

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new combination vaccine against both smallpox and anthrax has been tested in animal studies and found to be more effective against anthrax than the Emergent BioSolutions Inc. vaccine currently available.

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Antibiotics cure anthrax in animal models

In the absence of early antibiotic treatment, respiratory anthrax is fatal. The 2001 bioterrorism attacks in the US killed four people, out of 22 infected (10 of them with respiratory anthrax), despite massive antibiotic ...

Medical research

Scientists show how anthrax bacteria impair immune response

Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, have determined a key mechanism by which Bacillus anthracis bacteria initiate anthrax infection ...

Medical research

Natural killer cells could be key to anthrax defense

One of the things that makes inhalational anthrax so worrisome for biodefense experts is how quickly a relatively small number of inhaled anthrax spores can turn into a lethal infection. By the time an anthrax victim realizes ...

Other

US military shipped live anthrax to lab by accident (Update)

The US military accidentally shipped at least one live anthrax sample across the country to a commercial lab in Maryland and four workers were undergoing medical treatment as a precaution, officials said Wednesday.

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Study generates Soviet anthrax pathogen genome from autopsy specimens

A new study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) used deep DNA sequencing methods to generate the anthrax genome sequence from the victims of the 1979 anthrax outbreak ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

US military confirms more anthrax blunders (Update)

A US Army lab sent a live sample of anthrax to Canada by mistake and may have sent the deadly bacteria to the Pentagon's police force as well, officials said Tuesday.

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Anthrax spores use RNA coat to mislead immune system

Researchers from Harvard Medical School have discovered that the body's immune system initially detects the presence of anthrax spores by recognizing RNA molecules that coat the spores' surface. But this prompts an unfavorable ...

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Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Most forms of the disease are lethal, and it affects both humans and other animals. There are effective vaccines against anthrax, and some forms of the disease respond well to antibiotic treatment.

Like many other members of the genus Bacillus, Bacillus anthracis can form dormant endospores (often referred to as "spores" for short, but not to be confused with fungal spores) that are able to survive in harsh conditions for decades or even centuries. Such spores can be found on all continents, even Antarctica. When spores are inhaled, ingested, or come into contact with a skin lesion on a host they may reactivate and multiply rapidly.

Anthrax commonly infects wild and domesticated herbivorous mammals that ingest or inhale the spores while grazing. Ingestion is thought to be the most common route by which herbivores contract anthrax. Carnivores living in the same environment may become infected by consuming infected animals. Diseased animals can spread anthrax to humans, either by direct contact (e.g., inoculation of infected blood to broken skin) or by consumption of a diseased animal's flesh.

Anthrax spores can be produced in vitro and used as a biological weapon. Anthrax does not spread directly from one infected animal or person to another; it is spread by spores. These spores can be transported by clothing or shoes. The body of an animal that had active anthrax at the time of death can also be a source of anthrax spores.

Until the twentieth century, anthrax infections killed hundreds of thousands of animals and people each year in Australia, Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe, particularly in the concentration camps during WWII. French scientist Louis Pasteur developed the first effective vaccine for anthrax in 1881. Thanks to over a century of animal vaccination programs, sterilization of raw animal waste materials and anthrax eradication programs in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Europe, and parts of Africa and Asia, anthrax infection is now relatively rare in domestic animals, with only a few dozen cases reported every year. Anthrax is especially rare in dogs and cats, as is evidenced by a single reported case in the USA in 2001. Anthrax typically does not cause disease in carnivores and scavengers, even when these animals consume anthrax-infected carcasses. Anthrax outbreaks do occur in some wild animal populations with some regularity. The disease is more common in developing countries without widespread veterinary or human public health programs.

Bacillus anthracis bacterial spores are soil-borne, and, because of their long lifetime, they are still present globally and at animal burial sites of anthrax-killed animals for many decades; spores have been known to have reinfected animals over 70 years after burial sites of anthrax-infected animals were disturbed.

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