Anthrax or Infection of Skin

Skin | Emergency Medicine | Anthrax or Infection of Skin (Disease)


Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a type of bacteria. In humans most often infections involves the skin, gastrointestinal tract, or lungs, this representing the three main ways of anthrax infection. Symptoms of cutaneous anthrax start 1 to 7 days after exposure. They are: an itchy sore develops that is similar to an insect bite. This sore may blister and form a black ulcer (sore); the sore is usually painless, but it is often surrounded by swelling; a scab often forms, and then dries and falls off within 2 weeks. Complete healing can take longer. Symptoms of inhalation anthrax: begins with fever, malaise, headache, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain; fever and shock may occur later. Symptoms of gastrointestinal anthrax usually occur within 1 week and may include: abdominal pain; bloody diarrhea, fever; mouth sores; nausea and vomiting that may contain blood.

Causes and Risk factors

Cutaneous anthrax occurs when anthrax spores touch a cut or scrape on the skin. Inhalation anthrax develops when anthrax spores enter the lungs through the respiratory tract. Gastrointestinal anthrax occurs when someone eats anthrax-tainted meat.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The tests to diagnose anthrax depend on the type of disease that is suspected. Tests may include: blood culture; chest CT scan or chest x-ray; spinal tap to check for infection around the spinal column; sputum culture.

Most people with anthrax are treated with antibiotics. Several antibiotics are effective, including penicillin, doxycycline, and ciprofloxacin. ...