Christie Clinic - Medicine for Your Life

Our website is currently having technical difficulties. To view the site, please click here

Health Encyclopedia

Health Encyclopedia

An invaluable resource of health information.

Cutaneous anthrax

Cutaneous anthrax is an infection of the skin due to direct contact with the bacteria Bacillus anthracis.

  • Alternative Names

    Anthrax - skin

  • Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Anthrax is caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. While anthrax commonly affects hoofed animals such as sheep and goats, humans may get sick from anthrax, too. The most common type of anthrax infection in people is cutaneous anthrax, an infection of the skin.

    The main risk factor for getting cutaneous anthrax is contact with animal hides or hair, bone products, and wool, as well as contact with infected animals. Therefore, those most at risk for anthrax include farm workers, veterinarians, and tannery and wool workers.

    Cutaneous anthrax occurs after the bacteria touch a cut or scrape on the skin.

    Anthrax is a potential agent for use as a biological weapon or for bioterrorism. In 2001, bioterrorist activities involving the United States Postal Service infected 22 people with anthrax. Seven survivors had confirmed cases of cutaneous anthrax. Most bioterrorism experts have concluded that it is technologically difficult to use anthrax effectively as a weapon on a large scale.

  • Symptoms

    Between 1 and 12 days after exposure, an itchy sore develops, similar to an insect bite. This sore may blister and form a black ulcer (sore), which is usually painless. It is usually surrounded by significant swelling. A scab often develops, and then dries and falls off within 2 weeks, although complete healing can take longer.

    Some patients also have painful lymph nodes, fever, headache, and a general ill-feeling (malaise).

  • Signs and tests

    A culture of the skin lesions should be done to identify the bacteria that cause anthrax.

  • Treatment

    Cutaneous anthrax is treated with antibiotics, most often doxycycline or ciprofloxacin. Ciprofloxacin has been the antibiotic of choice during a suspected anthrax outbreak.

    Because anthrax spores may take up to 60 days to grow, the length of treatment is usually 60 days.

  • Expectations (prognosis)

    The outlook is excellent when anthrax is treated. Death is extremely rare when antibiotics are promptly given.

  • Complications

    In some cases, the infection can spread through the bloodstream, leading to shock and death.

  • Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you know you have been exposed to anthrax, or if you develop a skin lesion as described above.

  • Prevention

    For individuals who have been truly exposed to anthrax (but have no signs and symptoms of the disease), preventive antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, penicillin, or doxycycline may be offered, depending on the particular strain of anthrax.

    Cutaneous anthrax is not known to spread from person to person. Household contacts of individuals with cutaneous anthrax do not need antibiotics unless they have also been exposed to the same source of anthrax.

    An anthrax vaccine is available to selected military personnel, but not to the general public.

  • References

    Inglesby TV, O'Toole T, Henderson DA, et al. Anthrax as a Biological Weapon, 2002. JAMA. 2002;287:2236-2252.

    Lucey DR. Anthrax. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier. 2007: chap 317.

    Reissman DB, Whitney EA, Taylor TH Jr, et al. One-Year Health Assessment of Adult Survivors of Bacillus anthracis Infection. JAMA. 2004;291:1994-1998.

Review Date: 5/30/2009

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris
727 East Court Street Paris, IL 61944 Dermatology: 366-1248; Vein and Vascular: 366-2670
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on University Photo Christie Clinic on University
101 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 Main Phone: (217) 366-1200
Billing Services: (217) 366-1382
Toll Free: (888) 391-0412
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care
1801 West Windsor Road Champaign, IL 61822 (217) 366-8000
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant Photo Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant
1400 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 366-1200
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Rantoul Photo Christie Clinic in Rantoul
209 West Borman Drive Rantoul, IL 61866 (217) 892-9671
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care
1001 Commercial Drive Mahomet, IL 61853 Main Number: (217) 586-6600 Convenient Care: (217)366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care
3545 North Vermilion Street Danville, IL 61832 (217) 442-8611
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Tuscola Photo Christie Clinic in Tuscola
300 North Main Street Tuscola, IL 61953 (217) 253-9258
Christie Clinic CU Sleep Photo CU Sleep
1207 South Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 355-1684
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic Cancer Center Photo Christie Clinic Cancer Center
109 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 366-5180
Christie Clinic Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan) Photo Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan)
2901 West Kirby Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care
1710 East Windsor Road Urbana, IL 61802 (217) 344-9440
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan
800 North Logan Avenue Danville, IL 61832 (217) 431-8930
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Fox Drive Photo Christie Clinic on Fox Drive
2110 Fox Drive, Suite B Champaign, IL 61820
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic Photo Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic
1109 B North State Street Monticello, IL 61856 (217) 366-1304
Gibson Area Hospital
1120 N Melvin Gibson City, IL 60936 (217) 784-2240
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mattoon Photo Christie Clinic in Mattoon
105 B Professional Plaza Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 345-3000
Christie Clinic Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System Photo Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System
1000 Health Center Drive Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 258-2588
Christie Clinic The Champaign SurgiCenter Photo The Champaign SurgiCenter
1702 S. Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 326-2030
Christie Clinic The Carle Foundation Hospital Photo The Carle Foundation Hospital
611 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 383-3311
Iroquois Memorial Hospital
200 E. Fairman Ave. Watseka, IL 60970 (815) 432-5841
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Savoy Photo Christie Clinic in Savoy
501 North Dunlap Avenue Savoy, IL 61874 Transformations: (217) 366-7460 Internal Medicine: (217) 366-5434 Ophthalmology: (217) 366-1250
Christie Clinic on West Park Street
1405 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 217-366-1237
Christie Clinic in Monticello
107 West Main Street Monticello, IL 61856 217.762.3352
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Decatur Photo Christie Clinic in Decatur
100 South Water Street Suite 103 Decatur, IL 62523 217-362-0661- telephone