Anthrax Home > Is Anthrax Contagious?

Some people wonder, "Is anthrax contagious?" The answer is no, anthrax is not contagious. Anthrax transmission occurs in one of two ways: from contact with infected animals or animal products, or as a result of bioterrorism.

Is Anthrax Contagious?

No, anthrax is not contagious; it cannot be transmitted from person to person. Instead, anthrax transmission occurs in one of two ways:
  • From contact with infected animals or animal products
  • As a result of bioterrorism.


Anthrax From Animals
Humans can become infected with anthrax by handling products from infected animals, or by breathing in anthrax spores from infected animal products (such as wool). People also can become infected with gastrointestinal anthrax by eating undercooked meat from infected animals.
Anthrax as a Weapon
Anthrax can also be used as a weapon. This happened in the United States in 2001. Anthrax was deliberately spread through the postal system by sending letters with powder containing anthrax. This caused 22 cases of anthrax infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify agents with recognized bioterrorism potential into three priority areas (A, B, and C). Anthrax is classified as a Category A agent.
Category A agents are those that:
  • May spread across a large area, or require public awareness
  • Pose the greatest possible threat for a bad effect on public health
  • Require a great deal of planning to protect the public's health.


Other Category A agents include:



Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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