Cutaneous Type of Anthrax Is Rarely Lethal
Wall Street Journal; A8
Despite its dangerous reputation, anthrax normally causes nothing more serious than irritation when contracted through the skin. According to Alan Zelicoff, a bioterrorism expert at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., the cutaneous form of anthrax, in which the bacteria enters the body through abrasions in the skin, is "rarely lethal" and can be successfully combated with antibiotics. Every year, about 2,000 people around the world contract cutaneous anthrax, primarily from being exposed to animal skins and animals infected with the disease. However, unlike smallpox, for example, anthrax is not contagious, says Luciana Borio, an infectious-disease expert at Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies. Martin E. Hugh-Jones, a professor of epidemiology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, says culturing anthrax from the flesh of a dead animal would be relatively simple for someone with even a small amount of knowledge of laboratory techniques.