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Cutaneous Anthrax Infection Symptoms & Inhalation Anthrax

After the September 11 bombing, we could never really get our eyes off the fact that even weapons such as anthrax are already forming part of the biological weapons program of some nations. Although several bioterrorism experts attest to anthrax's being an ineffective biological weapon on the large-scale, we cannot help but wonder why through all this flurried news stuff about this disease some of us still can't get enough sleep through the night for the fear of an outbreak. This is because knowledge has yet to be imparted. Questions like what, how, and why have not yet been properly addressed. That's perhaps the reason why you are reading this article.

To start with, anthrax comes in three forms namely the inhalational, gastrointestinal, and cutaneous. The most talked about and actually, the most deadly if not stopped through thorough medication is the inhalational. But for the sake of brevity, we will treat the cutaneous because it is the most “showy” of the three types. Anthrax is actually the Greek word for “charcoal” and this probably refers to a particular stage of the disease where the skin infection worsens to scabs, which later blackens and falls off from its place. This starts as boil-like lesions in the skin after having contact with an infected animal. Yes, that's right. Anthrax is actually an illnesses in animals particularly their hides, hair, blood, and excrement. Moreover, this comes from the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, a spore-forming bacterium, commonly present in herbivores like goats and cattle. That's why it will take 60 days before finally the disease surfaces, as that would be the same time it would take for the spores to germinate. People in whose jobs have contact with animals like veterinarians and animal handlers are most likely to have for more risk contracting the disease.

Cutaneous Anthrax Treatment

Symptoms of anthrax include, as mentioned earlier, blisters, which later swell into liquid-filled sacs before turning into black scabs, fever, headache, or malaise, and to some patients, swollen, painful lymph nodes. To treat the disease, a culture of the skin lesions should be done to identify the virus that caused the anthrax and then treat the bacterial skin infection. Most of the time, oral antibiotics are the main choice of doctors when treating cutaneous anthrax. Also, antibiotics like penicillin, doxycycline, and ciprofloxacin, with the latter as the drug of choice in a suspected anthrax outbreak, are also effective. Since prevention is still better than cure, as the adage would go, experts came up with an anthrax vaccine. However, this is only available to military personnel in a 6-dose series. However, there is nothing to worry about since there are no known findings of person-to-person anthrax contraction.