Biological Terrorism: Know The Facts About Anthrax and Smallpox
The “threat of Biological Terrorism” has been heard often in the news since the attacks on September 11th. Though the risk is very low that you will encounter this kind of warfare, it is important to know the facts.
Biological terrorism is the intentional use of toxic micro-organisms to harm or kill people. Terrorists are most likely to use organisms that can be easily spread among people, such as infectious diseases.
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Anthrax
The most often talked-about form of Bio-terrorism is Anthrax. Anthrax can infect people through superficial cuts or wounds, the inhalation of anthrax spores, and by eating infected food. ANTHRAX IS NOT CONTAGIOUS, the way a cold or flu is. It is treated with antibiotics and is completely treatable if identified quickly.
• Infection by skin contact: Most cases occur by skin contact. Skin infection begins as a raised itchy bump that looks like an insect bite. Within 1-2 days, it develops into a boil-like sore and then a painless ulcer with a characteristic dark (dying) area in the center. The infection can also cause swelling of the lymph glands near the site. About 20% of untreated cases will result in death. With proper treatment, deaths from this type of anthrax are rare.
• Infection by inhalation: People who get anthrax by breathing in spores have symptoms that are like a common cold. After several days, the symptoms can progress to severe breathing problems and shock. This type of anthrax usually results in death in 1-2 days after the start of severe symptoms.
• Infection by ingestion: Intestinal infections from eating contaminated meat are rare. The infection causes severe inflammation of the intestinal tract. The first signs are nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and fever, followed by abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, and severe diarrhea. Intestinal anthrax results in death in 25% to 60% of cases.