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How Dangerous Is Anthrax?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies agents with recognized bioterrorism potential into three priority areas: A, B and C. Anthrax is classified as a Category A bioterrorism agent.

Category A agents are those that:
– pose the greatest possible threat for a bad effect on public health
– may spread across a large area or need public awareness
– need a great deal of planning to protect the public’s health

In most cases, early treatment with antibiotics can cure cutaneous anthrax. Even if untreated, 80 percent of people who become infected with cutaneous anthrax do not die. Gastrointestinal anthrax is more serious because between one-fourth and more than half of cases lead to death. Inhalation anthrax is much more severe. In 2001, about half of the cases of inhalation anthrax ended in death.2

Anthrax Bioterrorism

Concentrated anthrax spores were used for bioterrorism in the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, delivered by mailing postal letters containing the spores. Only a few grams of material were used in these attacks.1

1.Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Bioterrorism, Anthrax What You Need to Know, < href=”http://www.bt.cdc.gov/ agent/anthrax/needtoknow.asp” target=”_blank”>http://www.bt.cdc.gov/ agent/anthrax/needtoknow.asp, Retrieved Nov-17-2009

2.Bohn, Kevin (2008-08-06). “U.S. officials declare researcher is anthrax killer”. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/08/06/anthrax.case/index.html. Retrieved 2008-08-07.

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