Inhalational anthrax and bioterrorism

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2003 May;9(3):221-6. doi: 10.1097/00063198-200305000-00011.


Until recently, inhalational anthrax was considered an infectious disease curiosity for medical specialists and veterinarians. This attitude abruptly changed following the intentional release of Bacillus anthracis spores via the US Postal Service in October 2001. Because of its rarity, few physicians were familiar with its clinical manifestations, treatment and prophylaxis. In this report, we try to fill this informational gap by reviewing these issues based on additional data culled from this recent bioterrorism-related epidemic. Moreover, we have purposely emphasized its clinical manifestations, searching for common findings that may alert the physician to suspect and rapidly diagnose this infection. To improve survival rates, prompt diagnosis of inhalational anthrax is crucial, since even a brief delay in therapy of this fulminating infection almost uniformly results in death.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthrax / diagnosis
  • Anthrax / drug therapy
  • Anthrax / epidemiology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacillus anthracis / isolation & purification*
  • Bioterrorism*
  • Connecticut / epidemiology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Analysis


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents