Anthrax, caused by a spore-forming bacterium known as Bacillus
anthracis, occurs in most warm-blooded animals, including humans, and
is found throughout the world. There are three major human forms: cutaneous,
typified by skin lesions; gastro-intestinal, typified by acute GI signs; and inhalation,
typified by respiratory distress, fever and shock. The latter, once considered inevitably fatal,
was shown in the terrorist attacks in the US to be susceptible to early treatment with antibiotics.
In animals the disease can be chronic – typified by sub-cutaneous
swelling usually around the shoulders and neck, or acute and peracute –
almost always and within days fatal.