Anthrax Vaccine

  • What Is Anthrax?

    Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria. It can occur in humans when they have been exposed to contaminated animals or tissue from these animals.
    Different types of anthrax infections can occur. These include:
    • Skin infection causing:
      • Skin ulcers
      • Fever
      • Fatigue
    • Gastrointestinal infection causing:
      • Fever
      • Nausea
      • Vomiting
      • Sore throat
      • Abdominal pain and swelling
      • Swollen lymph glands
    • Inhaled infection—this is the most serious form and can cause:
      • Sore throat
      • Fever
      • Muscle aches
      • Breathing problems
      • Shock
      • Brain inflammation
    Anthrax is treated with antibiotics. All forms of anthrax can be fatal, especially if not treated.
  • What Is the Anthrax Vaccine?

    The anthrax vaccine protects against anthrax. It does not contain cells that cause anthrax.
  • Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?

    The following people aged 18 to 65 years should get vaccinated. Those who:
    • Are lab workers who may come into contact with the bacteria that causes anthrax
    • Certain people who handle animals and animal products
    • Certain people in the military who risk exposure to anthrax as a biological warfare weapon
    These people should get 5 doses of the vaccine in the muscle. The first dose should be given when there is risk of exposure. The other 4 doses should be given at 4 weeks and 6, 12, and 18 months after the first dose.
  • What Are the Risks Associated With the Anthrax Vaccine?

    Risks associated with the anthrax vaccine include:
    • Common, mild side effects include a reaction at the injection site—Soreness, redness, itching, a lump, or a bruise
    • Headaches
    • Fatigue
    • Rare, but serious risks include a serious allergic reaction—This condition is usually associated with anaphylaxis , which is an extreme allergic response.
    • Other serious adverse events may also occur.
  • Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

    Those who should not get vaccinated include:
    • Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of anthrax vaccine or any vaccine component
    • People with Guillain Barré syndrome
    • Those who are very sick
  • What Other Ways Can Anthrax Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?

    You can prevent anthrax if you:
    • Take precautions when dealing with animals or animal products that could possibly be contaminated the bacteria that causes anthrax.
    • Begin a course of antibiotic treatment if you have been exposed to anthrax.
  • What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?

    It is not believed that anthrax can be spread from person to person. If an outbreak occurred and a large number of people were exposed to the bacteria, the US would give antibiotics and vaccines to everyone who was exposed.
  • WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

    Vaccine and ImmunizationsCenters for Disease Control and Prevention

    World Health Organization

    References

    Anthrax. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/anthrax/ . Updated July 17, 2009. Accessed August 29, 2013.

    Anthrax. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated January 15, 2013. Accessed August 29, 2013.

    Anthrax. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/BioterrorismandDrugPreparedness/ucm063485.htm . Updated March 18, 2011. Accessed August 29, 2013.

    Anthrax vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/anthrax.pdf . Updated March 10, 2010. Accessed August 29, 2013.

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