Anthrax Essay

785 words - 3 pages


Many Facilities in communities around the country have received anthrax threat letters. Most were empty envelopes. Some have contained powder substances. Anthrax has been linked back to the fifth and sixth plaques of Egypt around 1500 BC. In the early 1700s it first appeared in North America in Louisiana. In Kentucky at about 1824 cutaneous anthrax appeared among cowboys on cattle ranches. Germany, Russia, and Japan conducted extensive research toward the use of anthrax as a biological weapon in the 1930s. Several countries produced anthrax during World War II but Japan was the only country to use it as a biological warfare agent. Japan produced mass quantities of anthrax from 1939 until 1945. The bacterium B. anthracis is what causes anthrax. It is primarily a disease of plant-eating animals such as cattle or sheep. The spores are extremely resistant to environmental factors. B. Anthracis spores can remain dormant or viable for several decades under the right environmental conditions. There are four forms of anthrax: Cutaneous, Inhalation, Intestinal, and oropharyngeal. The actual incubation period of anthrax is 1 to 7 days, with most cases occurring within two days of exposure. The infection usually lasts from 3 to 5 days. Anthrax is not spread person to person. Cutaneous anthrax also known as woolsorter's disease or ragpicker's disease occurs through either abraded skin or through small breaks in the epidermis of the skin. The first signs start with irritated itching where it came in contact or exposed to the skin. Within a few hours the affected area appears as a small, red discolored spot on the skin. The known symptoms for the early stages are discomfort (malaise), fever, headache, and exhaustion. Within about 4 days or the "active" phase of the disease most people have significant fever, possibly blood poisoning, and meningitis can occur. More than 95 % of anthrax cases are cutaneous. A large dose of inhalation anthrax is 8,000 to 10,000 spores. The particle size is smaller than 5 microns. This causes septicemia (blood poisoning) or hemorrhagic inflammation of the lymph nodes. People usually die after 24-36 hours after exposure and it occurs in 95 to 100 percent of untreated cases. This is the type of anthrax expected to occur in...

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