Color enhanced scanning electron micrograph of Bacillus anthracis, a large, spore forming bacteria (1-1.5um x 4-10um) that is the cause of anthrax. A disease of generally herbivorous animals, in man, anthrax is primarily an occupational disease, contracted through the inhalation of contaminated soil particles or by handling wool or hair from diseased animals. Symptoms vary depending upon the type of exposure. With skin exposure, swelling of the lymph glands, and a boil-like lesion will appear. With respiratory exposure, symptoms resemble a common cold, progressing to severe breathing problems and shock. Inhalation of anthrax is usually fatal as its spores kill by producing lethal toxins that rupture the alveoli in the lungs. Respiratory inhalation of anthrax is also a potential agent in biological warfare as the spores of the bacterium can be freeze-dried and loaded in munitions or disseminated as an aerosol.

Credit: Dr. Gary Gaugler / Science Source

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