Anthrax  |  Hemorrhagic Fevers  |  Smallpox  |  Plague  

Botulism  |  Tularemia  |  Q & A  | More information





Exposure: Anthrax can enter the body through a cut in the skin or by contact with infected animals or animal products. Eating infected meat that has not been cooked sufficiently, or inhaling the anthrax spores into the lungs can also cause the disease. Inhalation anthrax is the most dangerous form of the disease.

Anthrax is not contagious. It cannot spread from person to person.

Symptoms and treatment: Anthrax causes fever and sores on the skin from one to seven days after contact. Eating infected meat causes nausea, vomiting and sores on the tongue or in the mouth. Inhalation anthrax has symptoms of a cold or flu, that become more severe and progress to respiratory failure. Symptoms of inhalation anthrax may take up to 60 days to appear.

Early treatment with antibiotics is essential for recovery from the disease.

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Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers


Exposure: These viral diseases, such as Ebola, Dengue fever, and Hantavirus, cause infection when an animal carrying the virus bites a person, or when an infected animal is eaten. Contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected animal or person can also spread the disease. Symptoms and treatment: From 2 to 21 days after exposure, fever, fatigue, and weakness appear, followed by bleeding beneath the skin or from eyes, ears, mouth and other parts of the body. Symptoms can progress to seizures, organ failure, and death.

Some are treatable, others are not.

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Exposure: Smallpox spreads by prolonged contact with an infected person, their clothes, bedding, or body fluids. Symptoms and treatment: A week or two after exposure, high fever, aches and a spreading skin rash appear. The rash develops into raised bumps that fill with pus that eventually burst and scab. Some severe forms of smallpox have a high fatality rate.

There is no cure for smallpox, but vaccination can protect against the disease. Because smallpox spreads slowly, vaccination is an effective prevention if the disease is detected. Connecticut has a statewide smallpox vaccination plan.

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Exposure: Plague can be spread by inhaling the plague bacteria in water droplets (pneumonic plague), or through the skin (bubonic plague). Bubonic plague comes from the bite of an infected flea or through a break in the skin that is exposed to infectious material.

Pneumonic plague can spread from person to person through sneezing or coughing. Bubonic plague is usually not contagious.

Symptoms and treatment: Symptoms appear within 6 days after exposure. Pneumonic plague causes pneumonia-like symptoms, fever, and weakness. Bubonic plague causes painfully swollen lymph glands, fever, and extreme exhaustion; it can develop into pneumonic plague as well. Both forms are life-threatening if left untreated.

Plague can be cured by antibiotics, and can usually be prevented by treatement within a few days of exposure.

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Exposure: Botulism bacteria can grow in contaminated food and cause infection when eaten. Symptoms and treatment: Botulism bacteria produce a nerve toxin that causes blurred vision, muscle weakness, and eventually paralysis in the infected person. Symptoms appear from a few hours to 10 days after exposure.

Botulism can be fatal if left untreated. Hospital care is usually required.

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Exposure: Tularemia is carried by rodents and rabbits, and spreads from handling infected animals or by the bites of ticks or fleas. Tularemia bacteria can be manufactured in an aerosol form that spreads the disease through the air. Symptoms and treatment: Tularemia causes swollen lymph glands, fever, weakness, chest pain, and breathing difficulty.

Tularemia is usually not life-threatening, though it can cause severe illness and can be dangerous to older people. It is routinely treated with antibiotics.

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