- Just sent off an email to Fox 28 news regarding a report
it aired describing Anthrax as a virus.
- I don't understand how the station could let the report
go on like that. Doesn't anyone at the station know the difference between
a bacteria and virus?
- Amazing. Here's the story...
- Health officials say they think they know how a 94-year-old
woman caught a deadly case of anthrax.
- They say the Connecticut woman may have been infected
with the virus when she tore up her junk mail. Health officials say the
woman ripped the tainted envelope in half before throwing it away.
- Spores probably broke off from the letter and were inhaled.
- Investigators say some of the bulk mail that went to
the woman's town passed through the same Trenton, New Jersey post office
that handled two anthrax-tainted letters.
- My email to the Fox station:
- From Patricia Doyle, PhD
- Please note that Anthrax is NOT a VIRUS - it is a spore
- Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the
spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax most commonly occurs
in wild and domestic lower vertebrates (cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes,
and other herbivores), but it can also occur in humans when they are exposed
to infected animals or tissue from infected animals.
- I shuddered when I heard a representative of Homeland
Security call Anthrax a virus several years ago. It surely made me wonder
where George Bush found Homeland Security officials. I assume that politics
is the prime influence when hiring these people, not their medical or academic
background. I would surely hate to have a chem/bio/nuclear event in the
US and have someone in charge who believes Anthrax is a Virus.
- We are woefully unprepared to handle such events. The
US cannot even manage getting flu vaccine to the public during perceived
vaccine shortage. Our hospital ERs cannot manage patients during a heavy
- I suggest that you inform your writers about the difference
between a spore-producing bacteria and a virus.
- Do not confuse Foot and Mouth Disease (a virus) with
Anthrax. Foot and Mouth Disease is incorrectly called hoof and mouth
disease. Some people do confuse Foot and Moth Disease and think it is
- Anthrax is not contagious. In other words it is not
- Cutaneous: Most (about 95%) anthrax infections occur
when the bacterium enters a cut or abrasion on the skin, such as when handling
contaminated wool, hides, leather or hair products (especially goat hair)
of infected animals. Skin infection begins as a raised itchy bump that
resembles an insect bite but within 1-2 days develops into a vesicle and
then a painless ulcer, usually 1-3 cm in diameter, with a characteristic
black necrotic (dying) area in the center. Lymph glands in the adjacent
area may swell. About 20% of untreated cases of cutaneous anthrax will
result in death. Deaths are rare with appropriate antimicrobial therapy.
- Inhalation: Initial symptoms may resemble a common cold.
After several days, the symptoms may progress to severe breathing problems
and shock. Inhalation anthrax is usually fatal.
- Intestinal: The intestinal disease form of anthrax may
follow the consumption of contaminated meat and is characterized by an
acute inflammation of the intestinal tract. Initial signs of nausea, loss
of appetite, vomiting, fever are followed by abdominal pain, vomiting of
blood, and severe diarrhea. Intestinal anthrax results in death in 25%
to 60% of cases.
- As for the theory that the 94 year old woman tore the
envelope in half which then caused her infection with Anthrax: If the
envelope was infected with anthrax tearing the envelope would be futile
in exposing her to the bacteria. In other words, if the envelope was infected
simply handling it would be risky.
- It was my understanding that initial news reports checked
the woman's mail for anthrax and found no anthrax which was the reason
her infection remained a mystery.
- In any event, I do hope the information provided helps.
- Patricia Doyle