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Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. It occurs naturally in soil and commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world. People can get sick with anthrax if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products. Anthrax can cause severe illness in both humans and animals.

People get infected with anthrax when spores get into the body. When anthrax spores get inside the body, they can be “activated.” The bacteria can then multiply, spread out in the body, produce toxins, and cause severe illness.This can happen when people breathe in spores, eat food or drink water contaminated with spores, or get spores in a cut or scrape in the skin. It is very uncommon for people in the United States to get infected with anthrax.

Anthrax is not contagious, which means you can’t catch it from another person like a cold or the flu.

Anthrax is a reportable disease in Oklahoma.

Visitors to areas where anthrax is common or where an outbreak is occurring in animals can get sick with anthrax if they have contact with infected animal carcasses or eat meat from animals that were sick when slaughtered. They can also get sick if they handle animal parts, such as hides, or products made from those animal parts, such as animal hide drums. If you are visiting these areas, do not eat raw or undercooked meat and avoid contact with livestock, animal products, and animal carcasses.

If you think you may have been exposed to anthrax, you need to go to a doctor right away and explain why you think you may have been exposed. Doctors can prescribe antibiotics to prevent you from getting sick. There is no test a doctor can give you that determines if you have been exposed to anthrax. The only way exposures can be determined is through a public health investigation.

If you already have symptoms of anthrax, it’s important to get medical care as quickly as possible to have the best chances for a full recovery.