In humans, three types of anthrax infections can occur, based on the route of exposure: cutaneous (skin exposure), inhalational (inhalation exposure), and gastrointestinal (ingestion exposure). Symptoms are dependent on the route of exposure. Those most often associated with skin infections are itching, boils, and formation of a black scab. Symptoms most often associated with inhalation infections are fever, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms most often associated with ingestion infections are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Additional information about anthrax can be found in the following resources:
Workers whose jobs would not ordinarily involve anthrax exposure could be exposed through acts of terrorism. Conventional thinking is that terrorists are likely to target places where large populations may be found such as large buildings, sporting events, or mass transit systems. Recent events have shown that there is a wider range of physical locations that could be targeted and this expands the range of employees who could be exposed.
Health care workers in occupational settings such as hospitals, clinics, and medical laboratories may be exposed to anthrax as a result of contact with patients whose skin, clothing, or personal effects are contaminated with anthrax spores, or through contact with contaminated equipment. Anthrax is not a contagious disease, so exposure will not result from contact with an infected patient.
Emergency responders, including police, firefighters, emergency medical services workers, and others who are responsible for responding to acts of terrorism may be exposed to anthrax.
Anthrax is most common in occupations involving animals, animal hides or fibers. Grazing animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and horses are chief animal hosts of anthrax. Occupations susceptible to exposure may include shepherds, farmers, butchers, handlers of imported hides or fibers, weavers, veterinarians, and veterinary pathologists.Back to Top
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