Florida Anthrax Case Isolated

A case of anthrax has been diagnosed in a 63-year-old man traveling in Florida, but it appears to be an “isolated incident,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson said Thursday.

According to Thompson, the man’s illness appears to be an isolated case of inhalational anthrax, but investigators from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are still investigating.

The man, whom Thompson described as an “outdoorsman,” is of British descent and lives in Georgia.

Anthrax is a bacterial infection most commonly seen in animals such as cattle, sheep and goats. It sometimes occurs in humans, usually when they are exposed to infected animals.

But with concerns about bioterrorism peaking, the Florida case is garnering greater-than-average attention. Anthrax contracted by inhalation–which is how it would be used in a terrorist attack–is the most serious form of the illness.

The FBI has confirmed the HHS view that “they have no reason to believe that this case is part of the terrorist attacks.”

Thompson advised that people should not change their daily routines, but should be aware of signs of serious upper respiratory infection, which are suggestive of anthrax. He also stressed that anthrax is not passed from person to person.

Anthrax is treatable with antibiotics, and Thompson said that “they have enough antibiotics to treat 2 million people for 30 days.”

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