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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. Antibiotics help treat the infection caused by the anthrax bacteria.

Common symptoms include the following:

You may have a fever, headache, muscle aches, or swollen glands with any of the following 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
  • Injection infection:
    • Swelling at the injection site
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Sweating

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone take you to the emergency department if:

  • You have severe shortness of breath.
  • You have hives or swelling of your face or throat.
  • You are dizzy or feel weak.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your abdomen is swollen, tender, and hard.
  • You have severe pain.
  • You vomit blood or have blood in your bowel movements.
  • 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 doctor about the anthrax vaccine:

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

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

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

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Anthrax (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Mayo Clinic Reference Guides (External)

Further information

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