Anthrax and smallpox fact sheet

Due to the current public concern regarding anthrax, Walgreens Health Initiatives is providing its clients with this shorteducational resource. For further information, please consult a medical expert.
♦ Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) is a spore-producing bacterium that usually is transmitted by contact with anthrax-infected animals or contaminated animal products. Anthrax bacteria cannot survive outside a living organism unless protected byspores, in which case the bacteria may survive for decades. When these spores come into contact with animals or humans,the spores release the bacteria, resulting in infection.
Spread of Anthrax
♦ Anthrax is not contagious. Person-to-person transmission is extremely unlikely.
♦ Anthrax is most common in agricultural regions by contact with anthrax-infected animals or contaminated animal products. ♦ Transmission to humans usually is due to an occupational exposure to infected animals or their products.
Types and Treatment of Anthrax
Three forms of anthrax occur in humans: cutaneous (skin), inhalation, and gastrointestinal.
Form of Anthrax
FDA Treatment1,2
Cutaneous (skin)
Intensive care treatment
♦ Fever, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, and Inhalation (most
severe form)
♦ Progresses to a high fever, respiratory ♦ Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and Gastrointestinal
♦ Progresses to abdominal pain, vomiting Impact of Stockpiling on the General Public3
The American Medical Association has advised physicians that there is no indication for the widespread prescribing of
antibiotics to prevent anthrax. Both the Surgeon General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services stress that the public
should not stockpile Cipro.
♦ Stockpiling of antibiotics by patients can lead to self-treatment when symptoms similar, but unrelated, to anthrax arise.
♦ Inappropriate use of antibiotics exposes patients to the risk of experiencing side effects.
♦ Overuse of antibiotics contributes to the problem of antibiotic resistance. The more often an antibiotic is used, the more chances it has to become ineffective against the bacteria that it’s trying to fight.
♦ Stockpiling may prevent the availability of the drug for individuals who may need it for other serious conditions. 1. Antimicrobial Susceptibility of Bacillus anthracis Isolates Associated with Intentional Distribution in Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. September – October, 2001.
2. Inglesby TV, Henderson DA, Bartlett JG, et al. Anthrax as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health Management.
3. In Light of Anthrax Cases and Exposures-AMA Warns against Antibiotic Misuse.
4. Disease Control: Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, Disease Information. Anthrax. Oct 23, 2001.
5. National Association of Chain Drug Stores. “Answers about Anthrax from your Pharmacist.” 6. National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Pharmacists/Patient Interaction on Preventative Use of Cipro. Oct 24, 2001.


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