Anthrax Home > Anthrax Symptoms

In many cases, anthrax symptoms appear within 7 days of contact with the anthrax bacteria. A person with cutaneous anthrax may first experience a small, raised sore that resembles an insect bite, but within days develops into a blister. Some symptoms seen with gastrointestinal anthrax can include nausea, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting blood. Inhalation anthrax can lead to problems that range from cold or flu symptoms to chest discomfort and severe breathing problems.

Signs and Symptoms of Anthrax: An Overview

Symptoms of anthrax will vary depending on the type of anthrax (see Types of Anthrax).
For all three types, symptoms can appear within 7 days of coming in contact with the anthrax bacteria (Bacillus anthracis). For inhalation anthrax (also known as pulmonary anthrax), symptoms can appear within a week or can take up to 42 days to appear.

Cutaneous Anthrax

The first symptom of cutaneous anthrax is a small raised sore that resembles an insect bite, but within days develops into a blister. The blister then develops into a skin ulcer with a black area in the center. The sore, blister, and ulcer do not hurt (see Anthrax Pictures).
Swollen lymph nodes may also occur.
About 20 percent of untreated cases of cutaneous anthrax will result in death. Deaths are rare when appropriate anthrax treatment is administered.

Gastrointestinal Anthrax

Symptoms of gastrointestinal anthrax can include:
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Bad stomach pain
  • Vomiting blood.
Gastrointestinal anthrax results in death in 25 to 60 percent of cases.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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