Anthrax Vaccine a Personal Choice for Military

By: Jeremy Ross
By: Jeremy Ross

A judge ruled that servicemen and women couldn’t be forced to receive the anthrax vaccine if they choose not to. The news could affect sales of Lansing’s Bioport to its largest client the U.S. Department of Defense.

The ruling is based on a 1998 law prohibiting the use of experimental drugs without patient permission.

Bioport says its vaccine has been around for over 30 years and is by no means experimental.

Despite the ruling it’s not yet clear to company officials if it will impact only a handful within the case or all of the armed forces.

Bioport says regardless, the decision will not damage its bottom line. Any shortfalls in sales from the DOD, it plans to make up in part through international sales and new product development.

Bioport says it plans to appeal the decision.

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Anthrax Facts

  • Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium "Bacillus anthracis".

  • Anthrax most commonly occurs in wild and domestic lower vertebrates (cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes, and other herbivores), but it can also occur in humans when they are exposed to infected animals or tissue from infected animals.

  • Anthrax is most common in agricultural regions where it occurs in animals.

  • Those areas that anthrax occurs includes South and Central America, Southern and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

  • When anthrax affects humans, it is usually due to an occupational exposure to infected animals or their products.

  • Anthrax infection can occur in three forms:
    • Cutaneous (skin)
    • Inhalation
    • Gastrointestinal

  • "B. anthracis" spores can live in the soil for many years, and humans can become infected with anthrax by handling products from infected animals or by inhaling anthrax spores from contaminated animal products.

  • Anthrax does not spread from person to person. It only affects those who breathe in the spores when first released.

  • If you are not in the immediate area of an anthrax release, or in a narrow path where spores of sufficient quantity are carried by the wind (it requires tens of thousands to millions of spores to cause infection) you will not be affected by the disease.

  • Anthrax can also be spread by eating undercooked meat from infected animals.

Symptoms of Anthrax

  • Symptoms of disease vary depending on how the disease was contracted, but symptoms usually occur within seven days.

  • Cutaneous: Most (about 95 percent) anthrax infections occur when the bacterium enters a cut or abrasion on the skin, such as when handling contaminated wool, hides, leather or hair products (especially goat hair) of infected animals.

    Skin infection begins as a raised itchy bump that resembles an insect bite but within 1-2 days develops into a vesicle and then a painless ulcer, usually 1-3 cm in diameter, with a characteristic black necrotic (dying) area in the center.

    Lymph glands in the adjacent area may swell. About 20 percent of untreated cases of cutaneous anthrax will result in death. Deaths are rare with appropriate antimicrobial therapy.

  • < b>Inhalation: Initial symptoms may resemble a common cold. After several days, the symptoms may progress to severe breathing problems and shock. Inhalation anthrax is usually fatal.

  • Intestinal: The intestinal disease form of anthrax may follow the consumption of contaminated meat and is characterized by an acute inflammation of the intestinal tract.

    Initial signs of nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and fever are followed by abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, and severe diarrhea. Intestinal anthrax results in death in 25 percent to 60 percent of cases.

Anthrax Vaccine

  • The anthrax vaccine is manufactured and distributed by BioPort, Corporation, Lansing, Michigan.

  • The vaccine is a cell-free filtrate vaccine, which means it contains no dead or live bacteria in the preparation.

  • Anthrax vaccines intended for animals should not be used in humans.

  • Mild local reactions to the vaccine occur in 30 percent of recipients and consist of slight tenderness and redness at the injection site. Severe local reactions are infrequent and consist of extensive swelling of the forearm in addition to the local reaction.

  • Systemic reactions occur in fewer than 0.2 percent of recipients.

  • If you have contracted anthrax, doctors can prescribe effective antibiotics. To be effective, treatment should be initiated early. If left untreated, the disease can be fatal.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/ anthrax_g.htm#What%20is%20anthrax (The Center for Disease Control Disease Information Web site)


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