Diagnosis

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:

  • 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.
June 01, 2017
References
  1. Wilson KH. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of anthrax. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
  2. Longo DL, et al., eds. Microbial bioterrorism. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
  3. Anthrax. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-positive-bacilli/anthrax. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
  4. Wilson KH. Microbiology, pathogenesis, and epidemiology of anthrax. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
  5. Wilson KH. Prevention of anthrax. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
  6. Wilson KH. Treatment of anthrax. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
  7. Stone CK, et al., eds. Nuclear, biologic, and chemical agents; weapons of mass destruction. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment Emergency Medicine. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
  8. Hall JB, et al., eds. Biological warfare. In: Principles of Critical Care. 4th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
  9. Anthrax vaccine: What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/anthrax.html. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.