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CHAPTER 7

Bacillus anthracis: An Aerobiological Threat

Anthrax has been a prevalent and fatal disease of grazing herbivorous animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes, horses and bison and has sporadically claimed the lives of humans. Bacillus anthracis, the etiological agent of anthrax, is a non-motile Gram-positive, spore-forming, rod-shaped bacterium. The spores of B. anthracis, which are infectious for mammals, are highly resistant to a variety of environmental conditions, such as heat, cold, ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, pressure and chemical agents. There are four clinical forms of human anthrax based on the portal of entry of the spores, referred to as inhalational, cutaneous, gastrointestinal and injectional. The high mortality rate of untreated inhalational anthrax together with the ease with which spores can be aerosolized has made B. anthracis an attractive biological weapon and is considered by many to be a serious aerobiological threat for an intentional release. The 21st century has been marked by the 2001 anthrax incident in the United States. This incident led to unprecedented advances in anthrax diagnostics, anthrax vaccine development, detection of B. anthracis spores in environmental matrices, decontamination technology and strategies for B. anthracis contamination and anthrax incident waste management.

Print publication date: 26 Apr 2016
Copyright year: 2016
Print ISBN: 978-1-84973-594-0
PDF eISBN: 978-1-84973-791-3
ePub eISBN: 978-1-78262-783-8
From the book series:
Issues in Toxicology