Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. The bacteria can be found naturally in soil and it commonly affects domestic and wild animals around the world. Anthrax is rare in the United States, however people can become ill if they come into contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products. If anthrax spores get into the body, they can multiply, produce toxins, and cause severe illness. Symptoms can take anywhere from 1 day to more than 2 months to present. Symptoms can include blisters or sores, skin ulcers, fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and others depending on the type of infection (cutaneous, inhalation, gastrointestinal, or injection).


While traveling to areas where anthrax is common or where an outbreak is occurring, visitors should not eat raw or undercooked meat and should avoid contact with livestock, animal products, and animal carcasses. Imported animal hides can contain anthrax spores and are associated with a number of anthrax cases in the United States. People who utilize or come into contact with imported hides should be sure to the hides came from animals in the US and that the animals were imported with an international veterinary certificate showing that they have undergone the appropriate government inspection. Antibiotics and the anthrax vaccine may help to prevent infection after exposure.

Report suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax immediately.

  • To report, call the reporting line at 360-728-2235 or fax reporting form to 360-813-1168.

Additional Anthrax Information