Information for Patients
Anthrax is a disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a germ that lives in soil. Many people know about it from the 2001 bioterror attacks. In the attacks, someone purposely spread anthrax through the U.S. mail. This killed five people and made 22 sick.
Anthrax is rare. It affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats more often than people. People can get anthrax from contact with infected animals, wool, meat, or hides. It can cause three forms of disease in people. They are
- Cutaneous, which affects the skin. People with cuts or open sores can get it if they touch the bacteria.
- Inhalation, which affects the lungs. You can get this if you breathe in spores of the bacteria.
- Gastrointestinal, which affects the digestive system. You can get it by eating infected meat.
Antibiotics often cure anthrax if it is diagnosed early. But many people don't know they have anthrax until it is too late to treat. A vaccine to prevent anthrax is available for people in the military and others at high risk.
When you eat, your body breaks food down to a form it can use to build and nourish cells and provide energy. This process is called digestion.
Your digestive system is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube. It runs from your mouth to your anus and includes your esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines. Your liver, gallbladder and pancreas are also involved. They produce juices to help digestion.
There are many types of digestive disorders. The symptoms vary widely depending on the problem. In general, you should see your doctor if you have
- Blood in your stool
- Changes in bowel habits
- Severe abdominal pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Heartburn not relieved by antacids
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases