How to Prevent Anthrax

Anthrax is rare, and most people will never be exposed to it. There is a vaccine licensed to prevent anthrax, but it is only recommended for routine use in certain groups of at-risk adults (for example, some members of the military and laboratory workers).

For people who have been exposed to anthrax but do not yet have symptoms, certain antibiotics can be used to prevent illness from developing.

Preventing anthrax during travel

Visitors to areas where anthrax is common or where an outbreak is occurring in animals can get sick with anthrax if they have contact with infected animal carcasses or eat meat from animals that were sick when slaughtered. They can also get sick if they handle animal parts, such as hides, or products made from those animal parts, such as animal hide drums. If you are visiting these areas, do not eat raw or undercooked meat and avoid contact with livestock, animal products, and animal carcasses.

International travelers should be aware of regulations concerning (and restrictions against) the importation of prohibited animal products, trophies, and souvenirs. For more information, see CDC’s Yellow Book.

Preventing anthrax from animal hides

Close-up of people's hands playing on djembe drums.

Imported animal hides have been associated with a number of anthrax cases in the United States. Cases have occurred in drum makers using these hides. Cases have also occurred in people who have handled or been near the drums or in the environment where they were made. Some imported hides may contain anthrax spores, and although this is rare, there is no way to test for the presence of spores on hides.

To protect against anthrax spores, be sure to use hides that came from:

  • Animals from the United States
  • Animals that were imported with an international veterinary certificate showing that they have undergone the appropriate government inspection
Additional Information