By Barbara Saffer
Discusses the affliction and its prevention in animals and the way to answer anthrax bioweapons.
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Extra resources for Anthrax (Diseases and Disorders)
Death rates from intestinal anthrax are high because the disease is difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Therefore, victims may not receive timely treatment. The worst recorded epidemic of human intestinal anthrax occurred in Saint Domingue (Haiti) in the eighteenth century and A Human Scourge 35 killed thousands of people. The outbreak began soon after an earthquake demolished part of the island on June 3, 1770, destroying bakeries, homes, buildings, and food storehouses. Historian Michel-Placide Justin describes the epidemic: The unfortunate slaves in the north of Saint-Domingue therefore experienced the most frightful famine.
Japan also used Bacillus anthracis bombs to spread anthrax. Shrapnel from the bombs infected people with the disease. Sheldon Harris, a historian at California State University at Northridge, estimates that more than two hundred thousand people were killed by Japan’s biological weapons. Biological Weapons Research in Great Britain The Allies—France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States—did not use biological weapons during World War II but did continue to research them. In the early 1940s Great Britain wanted to determine how much anthrax would be needed to attack enemy cities.
As the disease progresses victims experience more severe symptoms, such as fluid buildup in the abdomen, bloody diarrhea, and bloody vomit. In very severe cases the victim may die of intestinal perforation (holes in the intestine). If intestinal anthrax becomes systemic, it can resemble the final stages of inhalation anthrax and lead to death from septicemia. Death rates from intestinal anthrax are high because the disease is difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Therefore, victims may not receive timely treatment.
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