ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences



ANTHRAX (Bacillus anthracis)

Anthrax is a bacterial infection of animals which may affect man. The causative organism is widely distributed throughout all countries and most commonly causes diseases in sheep, cattle, goats, pigs and horses. Pastures may remain infective for many years following contamination with the spores of Bacillus anthracis, which also may contaminate the hides and wool of living animals providing a source of infection for man. The disease may occur as a cutaneous form or as an acute pulmonary or alimentary infection.

Cutaneous ­ results from inoculation of organisms into skin from infected hides, wools or brushes made from bristles of animal origin. The infection produces a raised `malignant pustule'.

Respiratory and alimentary ­ infections are rare and result from inhalation or ingestion of large numbers of spores or bacilli.

Early antibiotic treatment can effect a full cure, however if early treatment is not sought a painful death may occur within 24 hours to seven days.

Animal house workers are most at risk of infection. Care is required when handling all new animal stock until staff are certain that the animals are free of disease. A boiler suit, long gloves which can be pulled over sleeves, and rubber boots offer staff some protection against pathogenic organisms whilst handling animals. Laboratory specimens containing the organism must be handled with extreme care and all tissues from infected animals must be incinerated. Infected animals should be humanely destroyed and their carcasses destroyed by incineration, where they lie if they are outside. Wash hands frequently, before and after handling animals or animal tissues.

Lynch, Raphael, Mellor, Spare, Hills and Inwood (1963)
Medical Laboratory Technology.
W.B. Saunders Co.

National Health and Medical Research Council (1985)
Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Experimental Purposes.
Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, Australia.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1985)
Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
Public Health Service, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20205, U.S.A.



BACK to the top of the Glossary Contents List
BACK to the top of the Chemical Contents List