Media Home | Contact Us
October 22, 2001/6:00 PM, ET
CDC Update: CDC summary of confirmed cases of anthrax and background information
CDC-confirmed cases of anthrax
Based on a rigorous case definition, CDC is reporting 9 confirmed cases of anthrax: 2 in
Florida, 3 in New York, 2 in New Jersey, and 2 in D.C. (in collaboration with MD and VA).
One additional unconfirmed case under investigation at the New York Post.
CDC defines a confirmed case of anthrax as 1) a
clinically compatible case of cutaneous, inhalational, or gastrointestinal illness that is
laboratory confirmed by isolation of B. anthracis from an affected tissue or site or 2)
other laboratory evidence of B. anthracis infection based on at least two supportive
· Inhalation anthrax is the most serious
and rare form of human anthrax. It occurs when a person breathes anthrax spores that are in
the air. Initial symptoms may resemble the common cold (including fever, muscle aches, and
fatigue). After several days, symptoms may progress to severe breathing problems and shock. If left untreated,
inhalation anthrax can be fatal.
· Cutaneous (skin) anthrax is different
from inhalation anthrax. A cutaneous infection due to anthrax can occur if the spores are in
contact with an area of skin that is not intact, such as a cut or sore. Cutaneous anthrax is
marked by a boil-like lesion that eventually forms an ulcer with a black center. The cutaneous
forms respond well to antibiotics if treatment is started soon after symptoms appear.
· For people with suspected anthrax
disease, laboratory testing is essential to diagnosis. Tests may include:
o Cultures of blood and spinal fluid
(should be done before antibiotic treatment has been initiated)
o Cultures of tissue of fluids from
o Microscopic examination of tissue.
o PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test
that amplifies trace amounts of DNA to document that the anthrax bacteria is present.
· Antibiotics are an effective treatment
if the disease is diagnosed early on; but anthrax can be fatal if left untreated.
· Anthrax is NOT contagious from one
person to another. Family members and contacts of persons who work in or visited the building
are not at risk and antibiotic therapy is not recommended for them. Other members of the
community are not at risk. Public health officials, together with the FBI, are continuing the
· The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention continues to work with state and local health departments, law enforcement
officials, and other federal agencies to investigate incidents of possible anthrax exposures
around the United States. In
Atlanta, CDC officials continue to work out of a 24-hour Operations Center. The
Operations Center staff is also responding to hundreds of calls each day from the public. CDC
has dispatched more than three dozen employees to either Florida, New York City, or
Washington, D.C. More
than 50 CDC laboratories have processed hundreds of specimens.
This page last reviewed October 22, 2001