Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Medicine, Health, Disease, Workplace, Human Resource Management, Environment, Clinic, Animals

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/10/27

Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis) is a spore-forming bacterium that is the agent that causes anthrax (Baylor). The illness is rare in humans, because it is mainly a disease found in wild game and livestock (Mayo Clinic Staff). B. anthracis is also listed as a possible bioterrorism weapon (CDC).


The two earliest observations of cutaneous anthrax were under clinical conditions and described by Maret (1752) and Fournier (1769). In 1877, Koch a bacteriologist used the spores of anthrax to thoroughly study the lifecycle proving that a particular microorganism causes a particular disease. Anthrax became well-studied and in 1881, Pasteur invented a vaccine for the disease. The live spore anthrax vaccine for livestock was invented in 1937 by Sterne. The disease in humans decreased from that time onwards. In the 1900s, the entire century, only18 inhalation caused anthrax illnesses in humans were reported.
Animals become sick from anthrax if they breathe or swallow the spores from soil, water or plants that are contaminated (CDC). The types of domestic and wild animals that get infected are deer, antelope, goats, cattle, and sheep (CDC). Indirectly or directly interaction with a sick animal, like touching the animal is a way that causes the illness in humans (Mayo Clinic Staff).
The main way that anthrax bacteria enters a human body is with a scratch or wound on the skin (Mayo Clinic Staff). No way for one person to infect another person has ever been identified (CDC) But if a person eats meat that is contaminated with anthrax, the risk is higher for becoming infected (Mayo Clinic Staff). Breathing in anthrax spores can also cause human infection. Inside the human (or animal) body spores are activated because the environment contains nutrients’ like sugar and water that are the optimum environment for the bacteria to grow (CDC). Once the spores are activated, the whole body can be infected with the disease, producing toxins that spread through the body, causing severe illness.
Anthrax may have first been used as a weapon during World War I when the German army purposely infected livestock and their animal food. Argentinean livestock was a target because it was going to be exported and fed to allied troops. he Geneva Protocol for the Prevention of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases and Bacteriological Methods of Warfare  was created to stop the use of germ and chemical warfare after WWI. After the treaty many countries still experimented with using anthrax as a weapon. Another treaty prohibiting toxic and biological arms was signed in 1972. After that treaty the US destroyed almost all the stockpiles of pathogens except for an amount kept for developing vaccines. In 2001 an anthrax attack was carried out in the US when letters containing anthrax spores were mailed through the post office. Inhalation of the spores caused five deaths after 22 people became sick. Forty three people total, tested positive for anthrax exposure. Ten thousand people were at risk for exposure. The FBI found that the spores were all Ames strain, from one batch RMR-1029 found at one particular American research lab.

Anthrax spores (Source: CDC/Janice Carr

Microscopically B. anthracis is a large rod-shaped bacterium. (CDC) In the environment the spores can last for long periods of time, up to decades in a dormant state in soil
The more quickly a person is diagnosed, the better they have a change of recovery. The antitoxin (anthrax immunoglobulin) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is


The range of symptoms that a person is sick with anthrax infection is when skin sores develop to shock. Prompt treatment with antibiotics can save lives, but inhaled anthrax is not easily treated; it has the highest risk of death (CDC).
Baylor Medical University lists three main types of illnesses caused by B. anthracis cutaneous anthrax, inhaled, and .gastrointestinal. People with open sores are especially susceptible to cutaneous anthrax. by touching the B. anthraci. At first the infection looks like an insect bite, but then a sore with a black center grows at that spot. Another symptom is the sore swells up and the lymph glands near the sore swell (Mayo Clinic Staff).
Breathing in the spores of B. anthraci damages the lungs. A person feels like they have a flu with muscle aches that lasts for days and includes shortness of breath, high fever, shock and meningitis.
Gastrointestinal illnesses are caused by eating undercooked contaminated meat (Mayo. The whole digestive system becomes susceptible to attack. The symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, terrible bloody diarrhea and a swollen neck (Mayo)
The Mayo Clinic lists another type of illness, injection anthrax that has caused deaths of people injecting illegal drugs in Europe. Redness at injection site that does not change to black, a great amount of swelling that progress to shock, organs failing and meningitis.
The time to go to a doctor is when a person has the preliminary symptoms and have been in contact with animals, undercooked meat or visiting parts of the world that have many cases of anthrax.
Sterling et al. (2005) researched what occupational physicians The purpose of the research was to find out if industrial sites were prepared for emergency treatment from an anthrax bioterrorism attack.. Bioterrorism training is focused on health practitioners at emergency rooms and private doctor’ offices, but Sterling et al. hypothesized that an industry with doctors and health staff on site could be a first point location in case of a target bioterrorism attack. Industries where workers require health care facilities on -site can also be a resource for the community. The researchers recommend that health professionals for industry can be trained as sources for early identification of diseases like anthrax, surveillance for problems, and help isolate the diseases(1438).
Wang, Ding, and Zhao (2012) addressed issues of improving the environmental risk assessments at biosafety laboratories. They noted that in anthrax has leaked out of a former USSR army laboratory in 1979 (1458). The researchers highly recommend advancing the use of environmental risk techniques at biosafety. Once pathogenic microorganisms leak from a laboratory, the risks are health of the workers and other people in the area, as well as pollutions from “waste air, sewage and solids” (1458).

Works Cited

Baylor (2013) “Anthrax” Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine
CDC http://www.cdc.gov/anthrax/basics/symptoms.html
David A. Sterling, Bruce Clements, Terri Rebmann, Brooke N. Shadel, Laveta M. Stewart, Robert Thomas, R. Gregory Evans, Occupational physician perceptions of bioterrorism, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, Volume 208, Issues 1–2, 8 April 2005, Pages 127-134, ISSN 1438-4639, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2005.01.012.
Mayo Clinic Staff http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anthrax/basics/symptoms/con-20022705
Q.G. Wang, F. Ding, S.B. Li, X.H. Zhao, Advance in Environmental Risk Assessment of High Level Biosafety Laboratory, Procedia Environmental Sciences, Volume 13, 2012, Pages 1458-1461, ISSN 1878-0296, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.proenv.2012.01.137.

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