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is an infection caused by bacteria. The bacteria are found in soil and spread from animals to humans. Cutaneous anthrax, or skin infection, is the most common. Lung infection is rare and may develop if you breathe in the bacteria. Intestine infection is also rare and may develop if you eat food that contains the bacteria.

Common symptoms include the following:

You may have a fever, headache, muscle aches, or swollen glands with any of the 3 types of infection.

  • Skin infection:
    • Raised, itchy bump, like an insect bite
    • One or more blisters with swelling around them
    • Painless ulcer covered by a black scab
  • Lung infection:
    • Cough or trouble breathing
    • A cold sweat
    • Chest pain
    • Stiff neck
    • Confusion or dizziness
  • Intestine infection:
    • Severe sore throat
    • Vomiting blood
    • Loss of appetite
    • Severe abdominal pain
    • Blood in your bowel movement

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have severe shortness of breath.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your abdomen is swollen, tender, and hard.
  • You have severe pain.
  • You vomit blood or have blood in your bowel movements.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a sudden, high fever.
  • Your symptoms do not go away or they get worse, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for anthrax

may include antibiotics to help treat the infection caused by the anthrax bacteria.

Ask your healthcare provider about the anthrax vaccine:

The anthrax vaccine helps prevent all forms of infection. The vaccine is recommended for people at higher risk for infection. This includes anyone who works directly with the bacteria, such as in a lab. Military personnel and anyone who travels to or works with animal hides or fur in high-risk areas should also be vaccinated. The vaccine is not recommended for anyone younger than 18 years.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Anthrax (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes

Mayo Clinic Reference