What should one be scared of in life? Well fear is a very rational reaction to danger and one of the most deadly bacterium in the world is the bacillus anthrax. Answering the threat of anthrax, one has to be very careful in how they phrase the response. Anthrax is just a name of a disease. However, in order to know just what anthrax is you have to look a little deeper than that. Anthrax is of course a deadly disease as previously stated but its proper name and the bacteria that it comes from is called Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax is a disease caused by the spore-forming, rod-shaped bacterium Bacillus anthracis. (figure 1) It's one of the chief causes of livestock disease that constantly threatens cattle and other domestic as well as wild animals today. Through its formation of durable spores, it can lie dormant in the soil for years. Once eaten by the grazing animals, the spores are activated and the bacteria reproduce and multiply. Anthrax is also a gram-positive aerobic bacterium, which allows it to be identified as such through gram staining. However, these bacteria have the ability to change over to gram negative after a long period so this method of identification is not completely accurate. As of today, there are eighty-nine different strains of the bacteria yet the researchers are expecting to find more, virulent and deadly strains. After the bacterium is spread, they then typically kill the affected animal and return to their previous form of spores once conditions in the host become too harsh to live in.
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Anthrax endo-spores have been noted to live up to 70 years after they are formed. Anthrax spores form to protect the bacteria from environments to harsh for it to survive in lending to anthrax's tendency to be very long lived. These endo-spores are soil born and so the livestock who graze are in close contact with these spores and are the most likely to be the ones to become infected first. When these animals are then handled or slaughtered, then the human population can be affected. Anthrax endo-spores are very long lasting and this is mainly due to its high tolerance to a number of factors. These factors include resistance to drying, heating, ultraviolet light, gamma radiation, and many disinfecting agents. Once the host cell creates an environment that is too harsh for the virulent form of anthrax the bacterium forms these spores in order to protect its coding and pass on the disease to the next host that it meets and can begin to germinate once again.
The bacterium's destructiveness is due largely but not solely to the toxins, which it produces. The other contributing factors is its poly-D-glutamic acid capsule which protects the bacterium from the host's protective factors like macrophages and neutrophils which are part of a host's innate defense system and its rapid replication capability. The actual toxins that the bacterium produces consist of three different but no less deadly proteins: the protective antigen, the edema factor, and the lethal factor proteins. Protective antigen (PA) binds to select cells of an infected person or animal and forms a channel that permits edema factor and lethal factor to enter those cells. Edema factor (EF), once inside the cell, causes liquid to accumulate at the site of infection. Edema factor can help contribute to a fatal swelling of fluid in the cavity surrounding the lungs. It also can inhibit some of the body's immune functions. Lethal factor (LF), once inside the cell, disrupts a key molecular switch that regulates the cell's functions. Lethal factor can kill infected cells or it can prevent them from working as they normally would. When used in concert, these three proteins combine to form the deadly toxins that cause the most cell death. These toxins are called the edema toxin and the lethal toxin, which will be discussed further on in the paper.
There are also three different types of the anthrax, all of which can affect a person or animal adversely. Ingested anthrax is caused by eating contaminated meats that contain the bacterium. Coetaneous anthrax is caused through skin contact with the disease. This mainly happens to people who work in relation to livestock since most of the disease is picked up by the cattle themselves not the actual person. Inhaling anthrax is the most serious form of infection, with the highest mortality rate. It is transmitted when anthrax spores are inhaled deep into the lungs where they may germinate producing toxins. Inhalational anthrax is one of the biggest concerns to the public health because of its potential as a biological weapon. Although anthrax is not transmitted person to person, meaning that it in itself is not contagious, anthrax spores have the potential to be turned into an aerosol and spread widely through the air causing widespread disease. Antibiotics and other preventative measures can prevent disease in persons who encountered the bacteria and provide the necessary protection when a spore enters the body and begins to germinate.
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Anthrax the disease gets its name from the Greek word "anthrakites" which means coal like. This is probably due to the black pigmentation that appears on a person's skin after anthrax has been exposed to them cutaniously. In the Middle Ages, anthrax ran rampant all over the world killing thousands of people each and every year. Robert Koch was said to be the finder of the anthrax disease yet this illness has had well documented cases throughout history. Some scientists believe that even the bible mentions the disease in its depiction of the fourth and fifth plagues on Egypt. The roman poet Virgil who is well known for his poem the Aeneid writes about anthrax through another of his poems and is another famous example. He wrote in his third Georgic expounding on an epidemic that occurred in the eastern Alps that contained some poetic license but was never the less accurate in his description of how this unnamed disease (anthrax) looked and acted. Before anthrax was known as anthrax it used to be called "wool sorters' disease '' as mainly people who were handling pelts of animals got the disease. Anthrax was studied extensively in the 19th century by many scientists among whom some very famous people could be found. Among them was Robert Koch who was said to be the father of bacteriology as well as Louis Pasteur who was said to be the father of modern medicine. Robert Koch was the one who found the correlation between the disease anthrax and the Bacillus athraxis. Using various methods Koch was able to trace the entire life cycle of the anthrax bacillus for the very first time. He was the one to find that this disease could form spores thereby surviving in very harsh conditions. Koch also grew the organism in vitro and then placed the bacteria in healthy animals thus inducing the disease. From his observations of the animals, Koch formed his most famous postulates from which the methods of studying microorganisms for the past century were based on. This is of course the original version of the scientific method. Koch's postulates state:
Microorganism must be present in every case of the disease but absent from healthy organisms
Suspected microorganism must be isolated and grown in a pure culture
The same disease must result when the isolated microorganism is inoculated into a healthy host
The same microorganism must be isolated again from diseased host
Pastuer felt that Koch's observations were not conclusive eneough to prove the germ theory which states that microorganisms are the cause of certain diseases. It was Pasteur's objective to provide an indisputable display of how the infectious disease was transmitted. Pasteur took a strain of anthrax and then diluted it with water until he was sure he had isolated the anthrax bacteria. Then in 1881 he innoculated twenty five cattle at a farm in a small village outside of Paris, with his anthrax vaccine which was the first vaccine containing heat-treated live organisms. They and twenty five other cows were then injected with a culture of virulent anthrax. All the vaccinated animals survived, but the twenty five in the control group died. To Pasteur's thinking it was this experiment rather than Koch's work that provided the proof for the germ theory of disease.
Anthrax, an ever present disease effecting the world, survived even into the twenty first century. However, most occuring cases were of the cutanious kind, which is fixed easily with antibiotics. Biological warfare brought into focus the real threat that anthrax has the potential to be. The Russians during WWI were going to use an N- bomb on their enemy to infect the people and demoralize the troops. In addition, during WWII, cattle cakes filled with anthrax were going to be dropped on the Germans to infect the livestock in order to take away their sustenance but was also shut down. Research on anthrax done in POW camps in Japan killed 1000's of prisoners with their attempt to understand the bacteria. An epidemic in Sverdlovsk near a microbiology building caused 96 cases of anthrax in humans due to ingestion of infected meat. The real cause of renewed research efforts came in the year 2001 where anthrax was used in a terrorist attack through the mail. Letters containing the bacterial spores were sent to people via the mail, causing a number of cases of anthrax and achieving its goal of terrorizing people. Although the person that sent the anthrax was found, people were finally aware of the fact that anthrax could be used as a weapon. This lead to major advances in the research of this bacterium, and advances in the art of biological warfare.
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In order for one to understand the threat of biological warfare using anthrax one has to understand how and why the disease occurs in the first place. The anthrax disease occurs when anthrax endo-spores enter either through inhalation, digestion or through contact with ones skin. The endo-spores will then find an advantageous environment in which to plant their virulent form, the active bacillus. These bacilli will then form proteins, which is the way the bacteria build its deadly toxins. Due to the poly-D-glutamic acid capsule that these bacteria have, the cells in the body have very little protection against these deadly spores. The capsule allows the endo-spores to germinate without any threat from an outside source and allow for quick reproduction of other bacteria due to the lack of competition. This capsule protects from phagocytosis and kills macrophages that are phagocytes, which disrupts innate and other cell responses. The macrophages, which usually ingest intruders to the body, are completely helpless to the capsule protection and this adds to the reasons why anthrax is such a deadly intruder to the body.
The other reason why anthrax is so virulent is the tripartite protein toxin. This structure is composed of three proteins that when combined form the deadly toxins which invade the body and lead to the death of the host. The three proteins names are the protective antigen (PA), the edema factor (EF), and the lethal factor (LF). When combined with the protective antigen both the edema and lethal factors form a deadly toxin, which produce different symptoms in the body. Separately, each toxin is harmful, but when combined these toxins wreak havoc and destruction on the host and will quicken the death of the host.
The protective antigen is the receptor binding of the other proteins, its structure is very conducive for transportation of the lethal factor, and edema factor into the cell after it has been modified. The PA is composed of two sub units, which are cleaved by a furin like membrane protease when the PA binds to cellular receptors. These receptors names are called the ATR or the anthrax toxin receptors. The bigger of the two sub units, the PA63 kDa fragment, then oligomerizes into a heptamer (see figure _) while the smaller 20kDa fragment is released into the extracellular matrix. The reason why the sub unit forms a heptamer is that the monomer sub-unit cannot support either of the other two proteins due to a lack of binding site. The heptamer then binds with either LF or EF being non-specific in its binding site. When attached, the LF and EF can change into its toxin form, (LT and ET) and when injected into the cell can convey the toxin to its final destination. However, because of the dynamics of the structure, the heptamer can only support three molecules at any one time leaving a space in between all of the molecules attached to the PA. The PA heptamer opens a cation-selective channel or pore across the membrane and transports the LT and ET into the cell. If this is allowed to happen then the toxin will be the death of the host.
The PA crystal structure after the two sub-units separated was, in the year 1997, discovered. Through its study, the PA was to be a great way in which to inhibit the release of the toxin into the host. This is because PA binding sites were recognizable and therefore scientists made models that another molecule formed into the same conformation as said binding site could be a substrate to the ATR (anthrax toxin receptor). This would inhibit the EF and LF from even binding to the PA, which leads to the total disarming of the bacteria's lethality and eventual death of the bacterium as antibiotics or other preventative measures are applied to the host. Antibiotics would be useless against the lethal toxin and the edema toxin but it is useful in helping clear bacteria from the infected host.
The edema factor, which is conveyed into the cell via the pore made by the PA, is a calcium and calmadulin- dependant adenylate cyclase. When it is in the cell, it will form an edema toxin complex with the help of PA that it is bound upon. This increases the cyclic adenosine mono phosphate (cAMP) which results in the influx of fluid into the cell and edema, which is a buildup up of the excess fluid between tissue cells. This is very harmful to the cell causing serious damage and inhibits some of the body's immune functions disrupting every day cellular activity. All cell types that have been examined up to date have been susceptible to the edema toxin (ET). ET can cause numerous problems in the body including; hemorrhaging lesions, hypotension, bradycardia, and capillary thrombosis. ET can also contribute to a fatal buildup of fluid in the cavity surrounding the lungs. It induces severe shock in the cell as the cell fills with fluid further inhibiting preventative action. ET increases heart rate while decreasing cardiac output, which in effect, starves the cells of oxygen, leading to the loss of circulatory fluids in many tissues, and damages the cell. Eventually the cell will burst with all the excess fluid and release the toxins into the ECM where it can wreak the same havoc on the rest of the body. When working in conjunction with LT, ET works twice as fast and efficient leading to destruction of the cell at a faster pace. Taking all of this information into consideration, ET is highly dangerous for life in the cell and without.
Lethal factor is also transported into the cell via the PA's pore between the cells membrane and the extra cellular matrix. Unlike EF however, LF is a zinc-dependant metalloprotease, which means that it utilizes an enzyme that uses metal as a catalyst to break down proteins. Lethal factor binds to the PA through the first of its four domains (figure_) and it is the most clearly defined portion of the molecule. Combined with the PA, LF produces a lethal toxin, called lethal toxin. LT, given its name because people used to think the only factor that killed a person due to anthrax was the lethal toxin that anthrax produced. Later on when they realized this was not the only toxin anthrax produced, (ET), and when they discovered the capsule around the anthrax bacilli, the name still stuck mainly because the name had a lot of truth to it. Lethal toxin is a major cause of destruction when it is in the cell and out. LT causes pleural edema, vascular collapse and a rapid death to cells due to its toxic effects. LT cuts mitogen-activated protein kinase kinases (MAPKK's). These signal transduction pathways couple intracellular responses to the binding of growth factors to cell surface receptors. This in effect cuts off a cell from outside response to the threat within, and stranded, the cell will eventually die. Since LT is the most harmful to the entire organism, it has been studied far more then the edema toxin. Of the two toxins that anthrax produces, lethal toxin is more deadly because it produces in the human body the same responses seen in animals infected with anthrax. In addition, a subject of interest is the fact that for the ET there is no resistance in the cell but for the LT some cell types have some resistance, which allows for the speculation that LT neutralization is possible for some point in the future. Due to its deadliness, the tripartite toxin, called the anthrax toxin, presents many different forms of symptoms making the diagnosis of the disease very difficult for discovery. This allows the LT time enough to form and if it does then the chances of the host, surviving is severely lessened.
The diagnosis of anthrax infection is different in all the different cases that anthrax invades into a host. Due to this fact, the doctors will most likely diagnose a different disease, treat that before they realize their mistake, and diagnose anthrax invasion only to find that they were too late to treat it.
For the inhalation adaptation of anthrax bacteria, a host will have to inhale ten to twenty thousand spores in order for the bacteria to get a hold in the system. The way the spores enter the body is through the oral cavity, which could occur by simply brushing off an infected pelt or animal. It could also happen by kicking up long rested dirt that has not been disturbed for many years and contain the spores. The anthrax bacteria spores invade the body's macrophages, which will eventually transport them from the airspace where it first entered, to the regional medistinal/tracheobronchial lymph nodes where the pH and other factors allow the spores to germinate. The effects of inhalational anthrax take four to eleven days to present themselves, and within that period, the symptoms could take the shape of a simple cough. The effects present themselves as minor symptoms and some people do not realize that they are infected with anthrax until it is too late to treat. The simple flu like symptoms could escalate into coughing blood and finally respiratory collapse. Even the doctors who are treating the patient could mistake the symptoms to be meningitis or some other minor problem and will treat it as such which is a major mistake. This mistake has probably killed many misdiagnosed patients and it is only after the person is dead that they realize the cause was anthrax through blood culture sampling and other tests. That is why analysts of the anthrax disease believe that it is one of the most difficult diseases to catch in time if you do not know exactly what you are looking for.
The inhalational form of anthrax is considered the cause of the most deaths when it comes to anthrax contraction. This is the reason that the government is afraid of terrorist attacks through use of the anthrax disease as a biological weapon. However, due to the nature of the infection a certain number of spores have to enter the body in order for the spores to germinate optimally. In fact, there was a case that the anthrax disease was released into the atmosphere over china and not one person was infected with the bacteria because of the volume of the bacteria over such a great area was very little. (Source) Nevertheless, the possibility that anthrax could be misused like that is still a very pressing concern for the public. Although the air born form of anthrax is so deadly, the other forms of anthrax can also kill just as easily if not caught in time.
Another version of anthrax that is just as deadly and just as fallible to misdiagnosis is the ingested form of the disease. This form of anthrax enters also through the oral cavity. However, instead of going to the alveoli in the lungs, the spores go straight to the gastrointestinal tract via the stomach. There they germinate and form the deadly version of the disease. The ingested form of anthrax is caused by eating something that is infested with the bacteria. It takes between one to six days in order for the spores too germinate and have a physical affect on the human body. Signs of the infection, just like the inhalational version, can be mistaken for some other illness and is also misdiagnosed constantly by those treating the infected patients. Manifestations of the disease in this form take a different approach in how they expose themselves. These include vomiting blood, which in turn leads to severe diarrhea. Also on the inside of the stomach, an inflamed intestinal tract can be observed. The disease spreads rapidly once it has germinated and will migrate out of the intestinal tract and spread through the blood stream causing cell death with its passage. The rapidity of the affects of this form of the bacteria suggest that ingesting this bacteria could be deadly if not caught in time and should be taken seriously.
The cutanious form of anthrax appears on a person's skin in the form of a boil like protuberance. At first, the bacteria can cause an itch, raising a sore kind of like an insect bite. Within one to two days, inflammation will occur around the raised area, and blisters forms around the area of infection, which consists of dying tissue that then becomes black in its center. Other minor lesions could also appear all of which contain a black center. This is why in the middle ages the death caused by this form of anthrax was named the black plague. The source of the infection, caused by the touch of exposed skin touching infected animals, infected animal products, or even getting dirt that has the spores rubbed onto a person can only be contracted if the skin was broken or abraded. Once the anthrax has a foot in the door it takes two to six days to show any effect what so ever. Other symptoms may include shivering and the chills, in most cases the bacteria remains within the wound. If, however, they spread to the nearest lymph node or, in very rare cases, escape into the bloodstream, the bacteria can cause a form of blood poisoning that can rapidly prove to be fatal. Even so, this form of anthrax rarely ever kills anybody since it is the easiest to detect; all you have to do is look at the black center of a wound to know you have an infection of some kind and the doctors will know it to be anthrax. The cure for this and all forms of anthrax is early detection and other procedures, each of which is different for the different forms.
Once a person knows that he/she has been exposed to anthrax spores, they must take immediate action in order so that the endo-spores have as little time as possible in order to germinate. A vaccine preemptively builds the immune system, helping it fight against the invasion via the bacteria. Unlike olden times when the cure for anthrax, who as stated above was created in the form of a vaccine by Louis Pasteur, was made with actual attenuated bacteria, today we have the luxury of not worrying that the attenuation went awry as it is no longer made from the actual disease anymore, rather it is made synthetically. In addition, a number of drugs and antibiotics can be administered in conjuncture with the vaccine or without to help cure a person infected with the anthrax disease. The most common treatment is prophylactic treatment, (amoxicillin 500Â mg, and ciprofloxacin 500Â mg and doxycycline 100Â mg) all of which prevent the disease from developing if started within twenty-fourÂ hours after exposure. Effectiveness is up to the time either when the active vaccine is administered, or until the body builds protective antibodies that are able to fight off the infection. Other broad-spectrum antibiotics also work against the anthrax bacteria including vancomysin and penicillin.
The duration of the treatment can last up to six weeks and during that time the person being treated does not have to be secluded. In fact, a person can go about his or her day perfectly normally; the only difference to a non-infected person is that they have to take a pill every eight hours or so. For the inhalational version of anthrax, treatment includes intravenous ciprofloxacin and doxycycline at the dosage of four hundred mg. In addition, for meningitis caused by inhalational anthrax, one hundred mg of ciproflaxin is the preferred method of treatment. For the ingested form of anthrax, large amounts of intravenous fluids, which flush the system clean from infection and help lead to a speedy recovery if administered in time. Regarding the coetaneous form of anthrax, five hundred mg of oral ciproflaxin or one hundred mg of doxycycline are the preferred method of treatment. All of these treatments can only help a person if administered before the disease starts to release its deadly toxin en mass. Once it has released the toxin it is to late because the drugs do not work against the toxin, rather only against the bacteria itself.
The best way to prevent harm as much as possible is to vaccinated pre-exposure, which will greatly reduce the risks of all the forms of anthrax. Once a person is exposed, quarantine of the area is necessary to ensure as little spread or contamination as possible. Cleansing of all surfaces from the spread of spores is necessary as well and can be done by using peroxides and bleaches, which effectively kill exposed endo-spores. A thorough wash down with antimicrobial soap is an effective way to decontaminate people who have been exposed to the endo-spores and will help focus everyone away from panic. Unfortunately, chlorine bleach is an ineffective method of killing the endo-spores on exposed surfaces due to the spore's high resistance to many compounds. Many other forms of sterilization however, do work including, burning of articles with the bacteria in them, as well as treating them with formaldehyde. An effective decontamination of articles can also be accomplished by boiling contaminated articles in water for 30 minutes or longer. Once all of these actions are done, there is little else anyone can do except to wait until positive confirmation of being infection free.
Much research has gone into the study to create the anthrax vaccine, however, it does not work one hundred percent of the time. In fact, in a case study, the vaccine actually caused symptoms of anthrax in a patient. The vaccine, called AVA for anthrax vaccine adsorbed is an aluminum hydroxide-precipitant preparation of protective antigen from attenuated non-encapsulated B. anthraxis cultures. Guinea pigs are used to produce the vaccine and for testing with the vaccine. It is the only vaccine produced in the U.S and has proven effective for the vast majority of the population. Adverse affects of the vaccine were first observed during the pre-licensure evaluation of 6,985 people who received 16,435 doses. Mild local reactions occurred in 3-20% of vaccinations, moderate reactions occurred in 1-3%, and only 1% had severe local reactions. According to the given numbers, the government felt that the risks were acceptable and even went so far as to mandate that all military personal be vaccinated. Most of the reactions observed included erythema, tenderness, and edema commonly at the site where a person was injected. Systemic reactions, such as malaise, fever, chills, body aches, nausea, headache, and myalgia occurred in less than .06%. In the case reported, there was a close relationship between the anthrax vaccination and the development of lymphocytic vasculitis. In addition, it showed cutaneous lymphocytic vasculitis, meaning that it had both signs of the disease and its pathologic process. All of these facts lead to a movement in the military that refused to be vaccinated due to the risks involved.
The research of the anthrax vaccine was not the only avenue explored on the way to prevent the disease in humans. Other methods such as modeling the PA and LT lead to the discovery of the PA receptor and determination of the 3D structure of LF. In addition, the bacteria's binding sites were found allowing researchers to create inhibitors to block action of the LT and ET. A synthetic inhibitor was produced to compete for LF binding site on the PA. The scientists then made multiple copies of this peptide and created a polyvalent molecule that prevented intoxication of rats with the purified form of LT.
The study of anthrax was highly facilitated by the use of animals in the research process as such animals like rats, mice, and guinea pigs are very like humans in regards to the anthrax disease. However, most of the studies were done on mice due to their many different breeds and other unique traits. Powerful in vivo imaging techniques such as bioluminescence allowed researchers to perform real time analysis of infection development in the model of the mouse. Another technique used in the studies were utilized by the removal of anthrax's protective casing (called the C5- deficient model) and this made the effects that anthrax produced controllable.
All of these studies showed that making a cure was possible and would be developed sometime in the near future. However, some people felt that the studies done brought inconclusive data. These people, while not being necessarily violent would rather test the bacteria on human subjects and since they are the same species as themselves receive a full analysis of the bacterium. Still, very few volunteers showed up when asked to participate and this could be due to the deadly nature of the anthrax bacteria. Other problems riddled the research done on the animals. For instance, the dosage relevance for a mouse would be inconsistent to that of a human being and even accounting for weight to body ratio a mistake could be made. Another instance is that mice succumb to the toxin deficient encapsulated B. anthraxis and humans do not. Noting the difference of in-vivo and in-vitro testing is also important if a person wants to understand what is wrong with the conclusions received from research. In-vitro testing is all very well and good yet it lacks the physical substance of a body and therefore cannot tell a researcher any pathological findings. In-vivo also has its faults. For one thing it is less reliable then in vitro due to the number of things that can occur during a testing.(loss of infected mice, miscounting, ectâ€¦) in vivo testing was the first way experiments with this bacteria were done. Many postulates were formed based on early data obtained from the observations of the effects of anthrax and are still used today, postulates that have now been proven to be true but back then had no way of being proven, only postulated. Therefore, in modern medicine today, scientists have a foundation on which to build their research on to find greater and better methods in dealing with this bacterial threat.
In an ideal scenario, modern medicine would have already diffused the threat anthrax poses against humanity. In that world everyone could be vaccinated, not with a potentially harmful vaccine like the one used today, but with a vaccine that is completely harmless to humans while still being deadly to the bacterial anthrax. This vaccine should be able to produce cell-mediated and humeral immunity responses in the human body against the invasion by the deadly disease. PA's true form would be found and scientists would create recombinant forms of all receptors used by anthrax. The constant worry that the anthrax disease will mutate can then cease, because the research efforts that had been done on the anthrax bacteria and that found all possible mutations and vaccines for all scenarios. Unfortunately, in the world today, though scientists strive to produce these results modern medicine has not caught up to its aspirations. In fact, not only is the threat of anthrax being caught by accident a constant worry, there is even a threat of it being used as a weapon against humanity.
Although not used as a weapon in world war two, Russians and Americans were prepared to use the anthrax bacteria against the German's in order to defeat them. Since that time, many years of research went into the study of anthrax and its uses in modern warfare. The 2001 incident with anthrax being sent in the post hastened a new level of research in the field of anthrax. Biological warfare became a priority in the military and weaponized versions of anthrax have been modeled. Anthrax can be deployed as an aerosol weapon through atmospheric dispersal or even contaminating food and water with the deadly bacteria. Even simple tools like a spray can could be used to contain anthrax. According to the CDC (center for disease control and prevention) anthrax among other deadly diseases is classified a high priority as a potential biological threat. Although a vaccine against anthrax exists, the various factors and risks involved make mass vaccination impractical. Therefore, research aimed at identifying effective preventive antidotes is key to fight off bioterrorism. Pre- and post-intoxication decontamination, medical treatment, availability of life support equipment and medical expertise will help boost the chances of survival.
The future challenges of dealing with Bacillus anthraxus is very clear. Knowledge of its history, pathology, structures, and preventative treatments and measures will help a person if in fact anthrax is used as a biological weapon. Preventative measures such as immunization and sterilization can contain the spread of anthrax to the absolute minimum and antibiotics can prevent the populace from being contaminated with the bacteria. Although not all subjects about the anthrax disease is known, this age is well on the way to stopping this deadly threat.