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Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax can be found naturally in soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world. Contact with anthrax can cause severe illness in both humans and animals. Anthrax is not contagious, which means you can’t catch it like the cold or flu.

People get infected with anthrax when spores get into the body. When anthrax spores get inside the body, they can be “activated.” When they become active, the bacteria can multiply, spread out in the body, produce toxins (poisons) and cause severe illnesss.This can happen when people breathe in spores, eat food or drink water that is contaminated with spores, or get spores in a cut or scrape in the skin.


  • Localized: A painless skin sore (ulcer) with a black center that appears after the small blisters or bumps. Most often the sore will be on the face, neck, arms, or hands
  • Generalized:  
  • Fever and chills
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Chest Discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains
  • Headache
  • Sweats (often drenching)
  • Extreme tiredness and body aches

Swelling of abdomen


  • To measure antibodies or toxin in blood
  • To test directly for Bacillus anthracis in a sample blood
  • skin lesion swab
  • spinal fluid
  • respiratory secretions

Samples must be taken before the patient begins taking antibiotics for treatment.

  • Xray


Use of respirators, protective clothing, and the anthrax vaccine by people at risk.

Risk Factors

  • People Who Handle Animal Products
  • Veterinarians
  • Livestock producers
  • Traveler
  •   Laboratory Professionals
  • Mail handlers, military personnel, and response workers who may be exposed during a bioterror event involving anthrax spores


All types of anthrax can be prevented and treated. The treatment should be seek as early as possible

  • Antibiotics
  • Antitoxins