Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax most commonly occurs in wild and domestic lower vertebrates (cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes, and other herbivores), but it can also occur in humans when they are exposed to infected animals or tissue from infected animals.
Anthrax is most common in agricultural regions where it occurs in animals. These include South and Central America, Southern and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. When anthrax affects humans, it is usually due to an occupational exposure to infected animals or their products. Workers who are exposed to dead animals and animal products from other countries where anthrax is more common may become infected with B. anthracis (industrial anthrax). Anthrax outbreaks occur in the United States on an annual basis in livestock and wild game animals such as deer.
Anthrax infection can occur in three forms: cutaneous (skin), inhalation, and gastrointestinal. B. anthracis spores can live in the soil for many years, and humans can become infected with anthrax by handling products from infected animals or by inhaling anthrax spores from contaminated animal products. Anthrax can also be spread by eating undercooked meat from infected animals. It is rare to find infected animals in the United States.
A report by officials in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia says the Pentagon was too slow in informing local officials about the recent anthrax scare in Defence Department mail facilities and gave antibiotics to workers without coordinating with public health officials. It says the Homeland Security Department (DoD) "needs to be involved earlier in such incidents".
Scientists have produced, in tobacco plants, human antibodies that could be used to treat anthrax exposure. They reported their findings at the 2005 American Society for Microbiology Biodefense Research Meeting.
Military textile fabric treated with an antimicrobial compound can kill dormant anthrax spores and could provide the basis for enhancing military protection in the event of a biological attack. Scientists from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD) reported their findings at the 2005 American Society for Microbiology Biodefense Research Meeting.
A mistake at the laboratory that did the initial testing as a result of the anthrax scare at the Pentagon, has been blamed for the false alarms which saw hospitals alerted, 900 workers prescribed antibiotics, and closed three area mail facilities that handle Pentagon-bound mail.
Two of the Pentagon mailrooms have been subjected to Anthrax tests in response to what appears to have been false alarms. The tests, which have been negative, were done a day after initial testing indicated the deadly spores might be present in some areas, prompting nearly 900 workers to take antibiotics as a precaution; it closed three mail facilities - two that serve the Pentagon and one in Washington that handles mail on its way to the military.
Preliminary tests on mail to the Pentagon in March have shown up positive for anthrax bacteria. The mail was taken to 12 distribution nodes throughout the Pentagon from the Pentagon’s Remote Delivery Facility; it now is being moved back to a designated area in the RDF said Pentagon spokesman Glenn Flood.
The anthrax attacks in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 in the USA have illustrated the high potential of anthrax for misuse in bio-terrorism. Dissemination of anthrax by letters led to the death of 5 people and chemotherapeutic treatment of 30,000 individuals.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Vaccinia Immune Globulin Intravenous (VIGIV) - the first intravenous human plasma-derived product available to treat certain rare complications of smallpox vaccination.
The Pan American Health Organization’s publication, Vaccines: Preventing Disease and Protecting Health, has won an award from the Association of American Publishers in the medical science category.
A portable device similar to a home pregnancy test that can quickly detect the presence of infectious diseases, including HIV-AIDS and measles as well as biological agents such as Ricin and anthrax, is the goal of a new joint research project
Using gene transfer technology, investigators were able to immunize mice against anthrax in just 12 hours, according to new research featured in the February 2005 issue of Molecular Therapy, the peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy (ASGT).
A portable device similar to today's home pregnancy tests that can quickly detect the presence of infectious diseases, including HIV-AIDS and measles, as well as biological agents such as ricin and anthrax, is the object of a new joint university/industry research project.
Flu. Smallpox. Anthrax. Whooping cough. The words represent a veritable murderers' row of infectious agents whose death toll runs in the millions.
Rapidly distributing antibiotics to people exposed to anthrax spores during a bioterrorist attack, could by itself, prevent about 70 percent of anthrax infections from occurring, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
MDX-1303 was developed by Medarex using its UltiMAb Human Antibody Development System, and this antibody is currently in preclinical development by Medarex for use against human anthrax infection.
Some individuals exhale many more pathogen-laden droplets than others in the course of ordinary breathing, scientists have found, but oral administration of a safe saline spray every six hours might slash exhalation of germs in this group by an average 72 percent.
From preventing polio to finding cures for cancer patients, animal research has saved countless lives.
VaxGen announced today that the U.S. government has awarded the company an $877.5 million contract to supply 75 million doses of anthrax vaccine for civilian defense.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded 14 contracts totaling more than $73 million to fund the Large-Scale Antibody and T Cell Epitope Discovery Program, an initiative aimed at quickly identifying the regions of selected infectious agents that elicit immune reactions.
Scientists at Imperial College London and Hammersmith Hospital are to help develop new vaccines in case of a terrorist release of biological agents such as anthrax.