Definition: a form of anthrax acquired by breathing in spores of Bacillus anthracis in airborne particles less than 5 mcg. The spores are then phagocytized in lung alveoli by macrophages and carried to lymph nodes in the mediastinum where hemorrhage mediastinitis ensues. The classic radiographic finding in inhalational anthrax is a widened mediastinum on plain chest radiograph or chest CT scan. Early diagnosis of inhalational anthrax is difficult because initial symptoms are nonspecific chills, fever, muscle aches, cough. After 1–3 days, dyspnea, hypotension, high fever, and stridor become the primary symptoms. Mortality for inhalational anthrax approaches 100%, even with treatment.
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