¥ Anthrax is caused by a spore-forming bacterium. If inhaled, these spores release a fatal toxin inside the lungs that can lead to respiratory failure and death.

¥ Symptoms — which can appear as soon as 12 hours after contact — are initially like those of the common flu but soon progress to shortness of breath, bleeding problems, and shock. A variety of antibiotics, including penicillin, can kill the anthrax bacteria, but the Food and Drug Administration identifies only the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin as an anthrax treatment.

¥ Anthrax is not contagious and the rate of infection is low unless exposure occurs directly after the spores are released.

–Andrew Dervan