Anthrax is an acute disease caused by Bacillus anthracis that affects both humans and animals. Most forms of the disease are highly lethal. There are effective vaccines against anthrax, and some forms of the disease respond well to antibiotic treatment.
Anthrax can form dormant spores that are able to survive in harsh conditions for extremely long periods of time, even decades or centuries. 1 Such spores can be found on all continents, including Antarctica. 2 When the 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. Carnivores living in the same environment may become infected if they consume the infected animals. Anthrax can be spread to humans by diseased, either by consumption of diseased animals’ flesh or by direct contact (inoculation of infected blood to broken skin).
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 died of anthrax can also be a source of anthrax spores.
1.”Crossrail work stopped after human bones found on site,” London Evening Standard
2.”Hudson, J. A.; Daniel, R. M. and H. W. Morgan (2006). “Acidophilic and thermophilic Bacillus strains from geothermally heated Antarctic soil.” FEMS Microbiology Letters 60(3):279–282.
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