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  • Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Most forms of the disease are lethal, and it affects both humans and animals. Effective vaccines against anthrax are now available, and some forms of the disease respond well to antibiotic treatment. Like many other members of the genus Bacillus, B. anthracis can form dormant endospores that are able to survive in harsh conditions for decades or even centuries. Such spores can be found on all continents, even Antarctica. When spores are inhaled, ingested, or come into contact with a skin lesion on a host, they may become reactivated and multiply rapidly. Anthrax commonly infects wild and domesticated herbivorous mammals that ingest or inhale the spores while grazing. Ingestion is thought to be the most common route by which herbivores contract anthrax. Carnivores living in the same environment may become infected by consuming infected animals. Diseased animals can spread anthrax to humans, either by direct contact or by consumption of a diseased animal's flesh. Anthrax does not spread directly from one infected animal or person to another; it is spread by spores.

Freebase Commons Medicine /medicine