Anthrax.  Photo from

What is it?

Anthrax — an acute infectious disease that occurs predominantly in the form of cutaneous, much less — in the lung and intestinal forms with symptoms of sepsis.

The name comes from the characteristic ulcers that occur on the skin of patients. Title in Western literature — anthrax (Ugljevik) — derived from the Latin name of infection and characterized by black film covering these ulcerations.

Siberian ulcer common in many countries of Asia, Africa and South America. There are pockets of it and in the territory of Russia — in the burial grounds in the Stavropol region, Belgorod, Voronezh, Kursk, Samara, Kirov, Rostov, Kurgan and Orel regions, the republics of North Ossetia, Chuvashia, Buryatia, Chechnya, Tatarstan, etc.

This infection is related to zoonoses — that is, a person becomes ill, or from the infected animal, or on his skin and coat. At the beginning of the century the incidence of anthrax in Russia was of a mass character. In the period from 1901 to 1910, this year a severe infection affects more than 16,000 people.

Nowadays, with the development of Sanitary-Epidemiological service, with the advent of antibiotics, the incidence is only sporadic, appearing only occasionally and individual outbreaks. In Russia each year from 15 to 50 cases of anthrax. It should be noted that almost all of them are professional in nature, that is, suffering people who work with animals.


The pathogen — Bacillus anthracis — anthrax bacillus, one of the giants in the world of microbes, length 6-10 and width 1-2 micron. Bacillus itself is very unstable in the environment — dies quickly when heated and conventional disinfectants.

However, it is capable of forming a spore capsule with a powerful — and that's when the agent increases stability parameters for the order. Dispute may spend hours in a disinfectant solution and can withstand up to 20 minutes of boiling. This form may be stored in Bacillus earth several tens of years.

These features of anthrax, as well as almost one hundred percent mortality of inhalational anthrax disease allowed considering the bacillus as a biological weapon. Genetically modified bacillus, as amended resistance genes against the major groups of antibiotics becomes a formidable weapon and very attractive not only military but also terrorists.

Have been attempts to anthrax U.S. government agencies, but they have failed because of ignorance of the characteristics of terrorists using such bacilli as a biological weapon.

But experts still recognize that the anthrax bacillus may serve as a biological weapon individual terrorists and the group, though — more likely than many other bacteria.

What if this happens?

Agent penetrates into the body through the skin (95%), which leads to the development of cutaneous anthrax. If inhaled spores may develop pulmonary, if swallowed — intestinal form disease.

The average incubation period 2-3 day oscillations can range from a few hours to8-14days.

At skin form affected skin often exposed parts of the body, especially with previous microtraumas. Not only affects the tips of the fingers, nail beds and skin of the nose. A typical manifestation of cutaneous forms are local variations in the gate area of infection — the formation of anthrax carbuncle.

After the lapse of 2-3 days after the introduction of the pathogen into the skin on its surface a small but highly itchy red spot, which soon turns into a tight knot — papule. The process is fast, and within a few hours on the top of papules pustules occur — the bubble is gradually filled with purulent content. Then pustule breaks and in its place are dead tissue in the form of a black scab that looks reminiscent of coal (which gave the Latin name of the disease — anthrax, ie coal).

Signs of general toxicity (fever up to 40 ° C, weakness, fatigue, headache, tachycardia) appear at the end of the first day or2nd day of illness. The fever lasts for 5-7 days, the body temperature drops critically, that is harsh. Local changes in focus gradually heal (with appropriate treatment) and at the end 2-3 week rejected a scab, canker is formed, which is then replaced by scar tissue.

The pulmonary form anthrax begins acutely, runs hard, and even with modern methods of treatment can result in lethal. There is a sharp pronounced chills, body temperature quickly reaches high numbers (40 ° C and above), there is conjunctivitis (lacrimation, photophobia, redness of the conjunctiva), sneezing, runny nose, a hoarse voice, cough. Thus, this is a dangerous form the disease can be confused with the flu or a cold.

The condition of patients in the first hours of the disease becomes severe, there are strong stabbing pain in the chest, shortness of breath, cyanosis, tachycardia (up to120-140 beats / min) and blood pressure decreases. In sputum observed admixture of blood. Death occurs through 2-3 day.

Intestinal form Anthrax is characterized by a general intoxication, fever, cutting pains in the abdomen, diarrhea and vomiting. In the vomit and faeces often a considerable admixture of blood. The abdomen is swollen, sharply painful on palpation revealed signs of peritoneal irritation. The patient's condition progressively deteriorated and events infectious and toxic Patients die of shock.

If any of the forms of anthrax can develop septicemia (blood poisoning) with the occurrence of secondary lesions (meningitis, liver, kidneys, spleen, etc.).

Before the introduction of antibiotics, mortality from skin form was 20% at the present early treatment with antibiotics does not exceed 1%. But with lung, colon, and septic forms outlook remains unfavorable, mortality reaches 100%, which is, as already mentioned, one of the reasons to consider allowing anthrax as a biological weapon.


To establish the diagnosis of anthrax may infectious diseases doctor. Recognition of the disease is based on data from epidemiological history — the profession patient, the nature of the material, from raw materials delivered, contact with sick animals, etc. This also includes the characteristic changes of the skin in the gate area of infection, as described above.

Laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis is the isolation and culture of anthrax sticks its microbiological identification, detection of relevant antibodies in the blood andSkin and allergic test with antraksinom.


Treatment is carried out only in infectious disease ward. Antibiotics used, as well as specific immunoglobulin. Note that anthrax still sensitive to most conventional penicillin.

Important active detoxification (intravenous infusion, with the addition of prednisolone).

Patients admitted to a private room, which features daily disinfection. Discharged after complete recovery and healing of ulcers.

We have had anthrax develops an immunity, although described cases of re-infection through 10-20 Years after the first infection.


Identification and elimination of foci of infection is carried out through the veterinary service. Individuals who are at risk of anthrax infection (employees at processing raw hides and wool, meat processing plants, veterinarians, laboratory workers who work with anthrax), carry out preventive vaccination live dry anthrax vaccine

For individuals, contact with sick animals, set under medical surveillance for two weeks.

To avoid infection, you must be very careful when purchasing meat from individuals in makeshift markets.

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