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 new report released today (25 October 2004) by the BMA paints a bleak picture of the global community's ability to cope with advances in biological and genetic weapons technology.
British scientists have developed a tabletop DNA test laboratory that can cut the diagnosis of disease and infection from hours to 30 minutes. This new test laboratory will soon begin trials in UK hospitals.
Prescriptions for antibiotics that could be taken in advance to prevent against anthrax were uncommon among concerned patients after September 11, 2001 and the 2001 U.S. anthrax attacks, according to an article in the October 11 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine.
This week’s lead editorial in THE LANCET discusses the benefits and potential risks of allowing genomic information to be freely available on the internet
Scientists have traced the first steps in the way some new diseases emerge, and how harmless bacteria living in insects become dangerous disease-causing bugs which can affect humans, like the plague or anthrax.
Tiny types of soil bugs already make many of the products we use in washing detergents, foods, and waste treatment, but scientists now hope that similar bacteria will also make the vaccines and drugs of the future
The new bug-smashing technique uses the bacteria’s own natural enemies, tiny viruses called bacteriophages (or phages), which can infect bacterial cells. The phages make thousands of copies of themselves inside infected bacteria, but then need to dissolve the bacteria’s cell wall to get out and infect other bacterial cells.
The compulsory use of vaccines to prevent the effects of a bioterrorist attack seems to be based on an unproved threat, according to an editorial in this week's BMJ.
While nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that the public health system would respond fairly in a bioterrorist event, African-Americans and Asians adhere to this view in smaller proportions, perhaps because of past discriminatory policies put in place by health officials, according to a new UCLA study.
Researchers have developed a powdered form of an anthrax vaccine that could potentially be inhaled through the nose and eliminate the need for needle injections.
Thanks to new screening tools, and some luck, researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered three unrelated compounds that inhibit the two toxins – edema factor and lethal factor -- that have made anthrax one of the most feared of potential bioterror agents.
A recent discovery shows that antibodies produced by shark immune systems could be used to detect a range of human pathogens some of which have the potential to be used as biological warfare agents.
In a new twist to the 2001 anthrax attacks in the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation is searching 2 homes in new York and New Jersey which may be related to the attacks.
Authors of a research letter in this week’s issue of THE LANCET outline progress in the ability to rapidly detect anthrax inhalation in the event of bioterrorist attacks.
A new book published by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) predicts that the 21st century will become the "century of vaccines" thanks to rapid developments in the field of immunization.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago have determined the crystal structure of sortase B, an enzyme found in the bacteria that cause staph and anthrax. While an antibiotic is probably five to seven years away, the structure could provide the first clue in developing a treatment for the infections.
Emerging infectious diseases, which have shaped the course of humanity and caused incalculable suffering and death, will continue to confront society in unpredictable ways as long as humans and microbes co-exist
A team of researchers led by The Burnham Institute’s Robert C. Liddington has determined the crystal structure of the binding complex between anthrax toxin and one of its host receptors.
Scientists have determined a three-dimensional (3-D) molecular image of how anthrax toxin enters human cells, giving scientists more potential targets for blocking the toxin, the lethal part of anthrax bacteria.
William Winkenwerder, Jr., MD, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs has announced the extension of the vaccination programs against anthrax to include U.S. forces in the Pacific Commands including Korea.