|Description:||This photomicrograph reveals numerous rod-shaped Bacillus anthracis bacteria, some that had linked together to form chains, while others remained solitary.|
Anthrax is a naturally-occurring disease of animals (e.g., sheep, goats, and cattle) caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. The bacteria live in the soil in many parts of the world and form protective outer coats called spores (hereafter called anthrax spores). Spores are able to withstand harsh or adverse conditions that would normally kill bacteria. Animals can get anthrax by ingesting anthrax spores from the soil. Anthrax in animals occurs worldwide but can be controlled by vaccination of animals. In recent years, anthrax has been reported among animals in many countries, and is especially common in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It occurs much less frequently in the United States, and animal health and inspection programs in the United States further help to prevent people from coming in contact with animals with anthrax, or the products from infected animals.