Anthrax Home > Learning More About Bacillus Anthracis

Edema Factor
Once inside the cell, edema factor causes fluid to accumulate at the site of infection. Edema factor can contribute to a fatal build-up of fluid in the cavity surrounding the lungs. It can also inhibit some of the body's immune functions.
Lethal Factor
Lethal factor also works inside the cell, disrupting a key molecular switch that regulates the cell's functions. Lethal factor can kill infected cells or prevent them from working properly.

What Does Bacillus Anthracis Look Like?

Bacillus anthracis spores and bacteria do not have a characteristic appearance, such as a specific color, smell, or taste. They also cannot be seen with the naked eye.

What Does Bacillus Anthracis Infect?

Bacillus anthracis most commonly infects wild and domestic animals (cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes, and other plant-eating animals), but it can also occur in humans when they are exposed to infected animals, tissue from infected animals, or when anthrax spores are used as a bioterrorist weapon. There are three types of anthrax seen in humans:

How Dangerous Is Bacillus Anthracis?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies agents with recognized bioterrorism potential into three priority areas (A, B, and C). Bacillus anthracis is classified as a Category A agent. Category A agents are those that:
  • Pose the greatest possible threat for a bad effect on public health
  • May spread across a large area, or need public awareness
  • Need 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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