What are the Symptoms of Anthrax?

Symptoms of anthrax vary depending on the type of anthrax.

Cutaneous Anthrax- It is the most common and naturally occurring type. It usually spreads as a result of handling contaminated animal products such as meat, wool or hides. The bacterium enters the body via a break (cut or abrasion) on the skin. About 5% to 20% of untreated cases can result in death, but death is rare if given antibiotic therapy.

Symptoms of cutaneous anthrax start 1-7 days after exposure. They include-

  • An itchy sore, which is similar to an insect bite, develops on the skin. This sore may blister and form a black ulcer.
  • The sore often surrounded by swelling and is usually painless.
  • A scab forms and then dries and falls off within 2-weeks. Complete healing can take longer.
  • The sore, blister and ulcer do not hurt.

Inhalation Anthrax- It can be transmitted by inhaling as few as 5000-6000 anthrax spores-perhaps in a single deep breath. Death rate exceeds 99%. Once severe symptoms develop, 45% to 80% of patients could die.

Symptoms of inhalation anthrax include-

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Malaise
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Shock may occur later

Gastrointestinal Anthrax- It is a very rare disease. It is acquired due to eating raw or uncooked contaminated meat. Death results in 25% to 60% of cases.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal anthrax usually occur within a week after exposure and include-

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting (the vomit may contain blood)
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mouth sores

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