Informing America about Anthrax

By Heather DiLalla
November 15, 2001

America should not be scared but should be informed. That was the message given by the chair of the science department. Dr. Sherry Fuller- Espie delivered this message on Cabrini Day, Thursday, Nov. 8, to staff, students and guests about biological and chemical weaponry.

The anthrax disease that started as a small, isolated case in Florida is not a new concept of biological warfare. In fact, biological warfare goes as far back as early Greece, when in times of war, dirty and dead animals were placed into the populations drinking water to contaminate it and kill the people who drank it.

There are three ways to get anthrax: cutaneous (through an open wound), inhalation and indigestion. In 1942, a bomb that contained anthrax was dropped overhead on Gruinard Island, Scotland Scientists placed 60 sheep on the island to see what would happen to them. All 60 of the sheep died.

In 1971, researchers detected anthrax spores still viable on the island. Anthrax spores can survive any where from one year to 1 million years.

In 1986 the island was decontaminated; however people have still not returned.

Anthrax has a life cycle that affects mostly animals. There is the entry of the disease where it then divides rapidly and then produces toxins. It hibernates and then will make the body decompose. Once the body disintegrates into the land, the cycle starts all over again.

In order to kill the disease and stop it from spreading, it is necessary to get a shot called ciprofloxacin. This shot is very expensive and has more side effects than penicillin or doxycycline. It consists of a series of six inoculations and an annual booster shot.

Fuller-Espie said that the first line of defense is medical centers. Therefore in order to prevent deaths from anthrax, America should be prepared for another bioterrorism attack.

For more information on anthrax, go to the U. S. Department of health and human services website at:

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Heather DiLalla

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