Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors For Anthrax Bacterial Infection

Anthrax Infection can be life-threatening. Know what the symptoms are and in which way can it enter your body.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: Jul 01, 2021Updated at: Jul 01, 2021
Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors For Anthrax Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections can be dangerous as they can spread very easily and infect the person through various means. There are different types of bacterial infections which vary in their transmission methods and level of severity. Bacterial infections causes long lasting illness and can sometimes go unnoticed due to factors similar to other diseases or infections. Anthrax is also a rare but very serious illness that is caused by spore-forming bacterium. It can be contagious and even lead to life-threatening consequences. It has also been used as bio-terror weapon once which led serious concerns over this bacterial infection. Today let us get to know about symptoms and causes of anthrax bacterial infection. 

Anthrax Infection

We have Dr. Rupali Shukla, General Physician from B.N.K Hospital, Prayagraj to give us a brief about anthrax bacterium. She says that anthrax is a bacterial infection which is caused by Bacillus anthracis. It is a deadly illness that can infect the person severely. It can spread through touch and through environmental factors as well. Anthrax is spread through animals and there have been very rare cases where it has spread from person to person. Anthrax bacteria go inside your body through any injury or eating contaminated food or meat. It can also occur because of inhaling spore-forming bacteria. This illness is very difficult to treat and sometimes can prove fatal. 


What are the Symptoms of Anthrax Infections?

Anthrax infection can occur by four major ways. All these ways result in different types of symptoms and signs. Hence let’s look through which way anthrax infection can occur and what will be the symptoms according to it. 

1. Cutaneous anthrax

This is skin based anthrax infection which enters the body through your skin. It usually finds an open spot such as a scar, cut or injury through which it goes inside. It is the most common way of getting anthrax and also mildest. With proper care and treatment, it can be cured within few days.

Symptoms of Cutaneous Anthrax

  • Raised bump on the skin that resembles like an insect bite. It can be painless and develop into a sore with black spot at the centre.
  • Swelling in the sore or nearby lymph glands
  • Fever and headaches are common

2. Gastrointestinal Anthrax

This type of anthrax infection usually happens when someone consumes contaminated food or meat that is infected by anthrax bacteria. It creates a harmful impact on gastrointestinal tract that can have an effect from your throat to your colon.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal anthrax infection are-

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody diarrhoea
  • Sore throat and difficulty in swallowing


3. Inhaling Anthrax Infection

The third way through which anthrax infection can spread is through inhalation of the bacterium. This happens when you are at place that is contaminated with anthrax bacteria spores and it goes inside your nose through air. This can be very dangerous to our health and can even cause fatal complications and death. 

Symptoms for this include-

  • Mild chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Painful swallowing
  • High fever
  • Trouble breathing
  • Nausea
  • Flu-like symptoms for hours and days continuously
  • Shock

Also Read- Pinworm Infection In Children: Symptoms, Causes And Risk Factors

4. Injection Anthrax

This way involves injection or injecting illegal drugs. It can spread through contaminated needle or illegal drugs that involve animals. 

Symptoms of injection anthrax infection include-


What Causes Anthrax Infection?

Anthrax spores are formed by bacteria of anthrax that is present in the soil naturally. Spores of anthrax can remain dormant for many years until they find a host body. The carrier of this infection is mostly animals and it spreads through them to other animals and humans. Most cases that have been reported have shown that is was due to the exposure with animals or having their meat. Anthrax spores can cause death if exposed or inhaled directly. 

Risk Factors of Anthrax Bacterial Infection

Since it involves people coming in direct contact with anthrax spores, the factors are very limited. You can be infected if-

  1. Working with an anthrax laboratory or similar setting
  2. Handle animal skins or are involved in making furs, wools that involve high anthrax risk
  3. Work as a veterinary doctor or volunteer
  4. Inject illegal drugs such as heroin etc
  5. Handle animals or be around animals a lot specially cattle.

Also Read- What Is PANDAS Infection? Know How Children Get Affected In This Disorder


Anthrax is a very severe bacterial infection that is spread through anthrax spores. It can spread through animals and injections which can result to severe complication. This bacterial infection happens rarely and thus the risk factors are limited to people dealing with animals or illegal drugs. Symptoms of anthrax infection vary according to the way of entrance. Most common is through skin, which causes mild infection and can be recovered. Other consists majorly infected with direct contact or inhalation which can be life-threatening. Be aware of the symptoms of this bacterial infection and get yourself tested if you think you have anthrax bacterial infection.

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