A serious disease caused by bacterial spores, anthrax is spread by animals and as a biological weapon. An anthrax vaccine is available, but generally not to the public.
What is anthrax?
Anthrax is a serious disease caused by bacterial spores. There are three types of anthrax infection: Skin, lungs and digestive. It's spread by animals and has been used as a biological weapon (in the form of a white powder). The best way to treat the disease is to prevent it altogether.
Who gets it?
While an anthrax vaccine does exist, it's not yet available to the public. Anyone who may be exposed to anthrax (soldiers, healthcare professionals, etc.) may receive the vaccine, however. It's currently administered in a six-dose injection series over 18 months.
What are the side effects?
Because the vaccine is not widely available, little is known about possible side effects. Symptoms of anthrax exposure include skin ulcers or blisters, nausea, fever, stomach pain and muscle aches.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently working with state and local health authorities to prepare for widespread distribution of the vaccine in the event of an anthrax outbreak or attack.
What you need to know
The best way to prepare for an anthrax exposure is to know the symptoms of this bacterial disease and to seek medical help if you believe you've been exposed.