Anthrax is a serious illness caused by a spore-forming bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. Although anthrax affects mainly livestock and wild game, humans can become infected through direct or indirect contact with sick animals. Normally, anthrax isn't transmitted from person to person, but in rare cases, anthrax skin lesions may be contagious.

Most often, anthrax bacteria enter your body through a wound in your skin. You can also become infected by eating contaminated meat or inhaling the spores. Signs and symptoms, which depend on the way you're infected, can range from skin sores to nausea and vomiting or shock.

Prompt treatment with antibiotics can cure most anthrax infections contracted through the skin or contaminated meat. Inhaled anthrax is more difficult to treat and can be fatal.

Jun. 09, 2011