Anthrax

NIOSH investigator practices collecting Bacillus anthracis spores in Level C personal protective equipment during an anthrax exercise.

Overview

Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis). B. anthracis spores are highly infective and can cause inhalation, cutaneous, or gastrointestinal anthrax. Inhalation anthrax results from breathing in spores and is of great concern due to its high fatality rate. Person-to-person spread is rare. (For more information see the CDC Anthrax Frequently Asked Questions.)

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

Emergency response workers, including law enforcement, public health, and healthcare workers, are also at risk of exposure if B. anthracis is used as a biological weapon.

Anthrax Instructor Training Package
Anthrax Surface Sampling logo

Anthrax Instructor Training – This training provides instructions for the collection of environmental Bacillus anthracis spores from nonporous surfaces using macrofoam swabs and cellulose sponges.

Page last reviewed: November 27, 2018