Worker Safety

Workers at risk include farmers, veterinarians, livestock handlers, diagnostic laboratory workers, and those who work with animal products.

Anthrax infections occur naturally in wild and unvaccinated domestic animals in many countries including the United States. Workers can be infected if they are exposed to infected animals or to meat or products (such as wool or hides) made from infected animals.

Cutaneous anthrax infections may occur from skin contact with contaminated animal carcasses, wool, hides, or fur. Inhalation anthrax infections may occur from breathing in spores that may have been aerosolized either by processing or working with spore-contaminated animal products. Gastrointestinal anthrax may result from eating under-cooked meat from infected animals or from ingesting aerosolized spores. Injection anthrax infections have been reported among heroin-injecting drug users in northern Europe.

Imported animal hides have recently been associated with a number of anthrax cases (cutaneous, inhalation, or gastrointestinal anthrax) 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.