2001 - Anthrax in the United States (State of Florida)
10 October 2001
Disease Outbreak Reported
WHO has received reports from the WHO Collaborating Centres, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is working closely with the Florida Department of Health, confirming one case of pulmonary anthrax in a Florida man who died 5 October. A second man, a co-worker, presented himself to medical authorities who positively identified anthrax bacteria in his nose. The two men worked at a local newspaper office in Boca Raton, Florida. One of the many samples taken from their workplace environment was positive for anthrax bacteria. Final results from other environmental samples will not be available for several days. Nonetheless, CDC assessed the risk to other employees and visitors as extremely low. An epidemiological investigation on this event is ongoing and WHO will continue to be updated.
Pulmonary or inhalational anthrax is very rare in the United States. There were 18 reported cases in the 20th Century with the last case some 25 years ago. Anthrax is not contagious. Anthrax bacteria normally enter the human species from infected animals or animal products, such as from eating infected meat, or through occupational exposure, such as in tannery workers. Symptoms of pulmonary anthrax include fever, muscle aches, and fatigue that rapidly progress to severe systemic disease. Antibiotic treatment before symptoms occur will prevent the disease. Anthrax vaccines can prevent infection, but are not normally recommended for the general public.