Extension of vaccination programs against anthrax to include U.S. forces in the Pacific Commands including Korea

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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.

The Korean Defense ministry at the same time announced that it has been trying to procure anthrax vaccines from the U.S. over the last 3 years to no avail.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease transmitted to humans usually by contact with infected animals or their discharges (agricultural anthrax) or with contaminated animal products (industrial anthrax).

Anthrax can infect by inhalation or skin contact (cutaneous infection). It is treatable with antibiotics, primarily doxycycline and Cipro. If diagnosed early, the patient has a strong probability of full recovery. Anti-terrorism. Anti-terrorism efforts are preventive measures, such as judicial, legislative, security or military measures taken to reduce vulnerability to a terrorist attack, as contrasted with counter-terrorism measures, which are military, police and intelligence measures used to fight terrorism through pre-emptive or retaliatory measures.

Spores of Anthrax can be used in biological warfare. US Army personnel are now routinely vaccinated prior to active service in places where biological attacks are considered a threat. The anthrax vaccine, produced by BioPort Corporation, contains no live bacteria, and is approximately 93% effective in preventing infection. Anthrax vaccination is one of many factors suspected of causing Gulf War syndrome.

British tests in 1942 contaminated Gruinard Island in Scotland with anthrax spores, and rendered it unusable for the following 48 years. An accidental release of anthrax in a research lab at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland in the United States led to the permanent sealing of a building with plastics and glues.

The simplest method of obtaining an anthrax sample would be to get it from an animal killed by anthrax; this source is rare in developed countries but common in underdeveloped countries.

Cultivating anthrax spores takes minimal equipment and about a first-year collegiate microbiological education. However, to make an aerosol form of anthrax suitable for biological warfare requires extensive training and highly developed equipment. The major problem is to prevent the spores from forming clumps too large for effective infection.

Portions of this article are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Anthrax"


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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