Anthrax is a deadly infectious illness produced by Bacillus anthracis, a gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium. Anthrax is a naturally occurring pathogen that affects both domestic and wild animals worldwide. Anthrax is most prevalent in agricultural areas of Central and South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, central and southwestern Asia, southern and eastern Europe, and the Caribbean. Individuals can become ill if they come into touch with diseased animals or contaminated animal products. Anthrax may infect both humans and animals and cause serious disease.
Anthrax is not contagious, which means you cannot contract it from another person, unlike the common cold or flu.
When anthrax spores enter the body, they infect people. When anthrax spores enter the body, they can become "activated." When bacteria become active, they can proliferate, move throughout the body, generate toxins (poisons), and cause serious disease.
This can happen when people breathe in spores, ingest spore-contaminated food or drink, or receive spores in a wound or scrape on their skin. It is extremely rare for anyone in the United States to become infected with anthrax.