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Anthrax Q&A

Posted October. 16, 2001 08:26,   


- How does a person get infected with anthrax?

``There are three ways in which a person can get infected by the anthrax virus. Contact with the virus through cuts on skin, inhalation through airborne virus, and eating undercooked meats that carry the virus.``

- How does it become a white powder like substance?

``Anthrax can be made into a white or beige powder form if it is cultured and processed. As seen in recent cases, anthrax can spread when packaged in small envelopes sprinkled with the powder. If the white powder is mixed with chemicals and made into liquid form, it can be spread over an entire city if sprinkled by plane.``

- How dangerous is anthrax as a biological weapon?

``Anthrax has no color or odor if spread by air. It is impossible to tell whether it has spread until infected people begin to display symptoms. Anthrax can survive in external, open air environment for up to 24 hours, and for a longer period in a closed environment. It can survives over 100 years underground.``

- How lethal is the virus for human beings?

``The most lethal cases are inhalation cases. If the infected person does not receive proper treatment in the initial period, the probability of death is 90 percent for inhalation, 25-60 percent for consumption, and approximately 20 percent for skin contact. Symptoms begin to appear after 7 to 10 days. Initial symptoms are fevers, coughing, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms which may be mistaken for a cold. After 60 days, discoloration of the skin and difficulty breathing occur which could lead to death.``

- Is it contagious?

``No. An infected person cannot give to another person.``

- How do you treat it?

``Penecillin and other antibiotics could treat the virus infection. The US currently has an antibiotic that can treat around 2,000,000 people.``

- Are there any preventative vaccines?

``Bioport, the only company that has been approved by the US government to produce the vaccine did not get FDA approval several years ago and stopped production. Presently, only the US military has a small amount of the vaccine.``

Shin Chi-Young higgledy@donga.com