Anthrax and Smallpox - FAQ's

Category A Biological Disease: -- The U.S. public health system and primary health-care providers must be prepared to address varied biological agents, including pathogens that are rarely seen in the United States. High-priority agents (Category A) include organisms that pose a risk to national security because they:

  • can be easily disseminated or transmitted person-to-person;
  • cause high mortality, with potential for major public health impact;
  • might cause public panic and social disruption;
  • and require special action for public health preparedness.

These agents/diseases include: Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Clostridium botulinum toxin (botulism), Yersinia pestis (plague), Variola major (smallpox), Francisella tularensis (tularemia), and viral hemorrhagic fever.

Q) What should I know about anthrax?

Anthrax. Our course of action for preventing anthrax after exposure in the civilian population would be with antibiotics. Vaccination is not recommended, and the vaccine is not available to health care providers or the general public. We do not recommend that physicians prescribe antibiotics for anthrax at this time. We currently have enough antibiotics to prevent the disease in 2 million persons exposed to anthrax, therefore we could rapidly get preventive medicine to those who may be affected by this disease, which cannot be transmitted between people.