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.