Epidemiologic Response to Anthrax Outbreaks: Field Investigations, 1950-2001

Michael E. Bales, Andrew L. Dannenberg, Philip S. Brachman, Arnold F. Kaufmann,Peter C. Klatsky, David A. Ashford


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2002;8(10) 

In This Article


Much useful knowledge, ranging from the diagnosis of anthrax to the use of vaccine to protect populations, has been gained from these past investigations. However, many questions remain. Further research is needed to determine the lowest infectious dose, define what constitutes a true exposure for which antibiotic prophylaxis is warranted (especially in light of possible drug side effects), and determine whether spores delivered in an envelope create a residual risk after the primary contamination event. Other areas in which more research is needed include developing better rapid environmental testing methods,[67] identifying optimal decontamination methods for a variety of contaminated settings, assessing B. anthracis spore background rates in selected settings, and determining the level of risk associated with a low degree of exposure to aerosols containing B. anthracis.

During the past 50 years, the scientific knowledge acquired in these field investigations has greatly improved the nation's ability to respond to anthrax outbreaks. New and unique challenges have been raised by the recent intentional release of B. anthracis. Further efforts to improve knowledge about anthrax, both in its natural setting and in the context of bioterrorism, are urgently needed.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.