Your doctor will first want to rule out other, more common conditions that may be causing your signs and symptoms, such as flu (influenza) or pneumonia. You may have a rapid flu test to quickly diagnose a case of influenza. If other tests are negative, you may have further tests to look specifically for anthrax, such as:
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- Skin testing. A sample of fluid from a suspicious lesion on your skin or a small tissue sample (biopsy) may be tested in a lab for signs of cutaneous anthrax.
- Blood tests. You may have a small amount of blood drawn that's checked in a lab for anthrax bacteria.
- Chest X-ray or computerized tomography (CT) scan. Your doctor may request a chest X-ray or CT scan to help diagnose inhalation anthrax.
- Stool testing. To diagnose gastrointestinal anthrax, your doctor may check a sample of your stool for anthrax bacteria.
- Spinal tap (lumbar puncture). In this test, your doctor inserts a needle into your spinal canal and withdraws a small amount of fluid. A spinal tap is usually done only to confirm a diagnosis of anthrax meningitis.
- Wilson K. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of anthrax. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
- Hicks CW, et al. An overview of anthrax infection including the recently identified form of disease in injection drug users. Intensive Care Medicine. 2012;38:1092.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
- Anthrax. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious_diseases/gram-positive_bacilli/anthrax.html. Accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
- Wilson K. Microbiology, pathogenesis, and epidemiology of anthrax. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
- Grey MR, et al., eds. The Bioterrorism Sourcebook. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2006. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=366&Sectionid=39825485. Accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
- Anthrax. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/anthrax/Pages/default.aspx#. Accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
- Hall JB, et al, eds. Principles of Critical Care. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2005. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=361&Sectionid=39866430. Accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
- Wilson K. Prevention of anthrax. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
- Anthrax vaccine: What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/anthrax.html. Accessed Feb. 25, 2014.