Its rapid rate of reproduction and its fatality rate help make this disease one of the most dreaded diseases of all times. Although anthrax is not contagious from human to human like most air born diseases, most people are unaware of how the disease is caught or how the disease invades your body. .
There are many things about anthrax that you probably don't know. Most people think of it as a deadly powder or chemical produced before the Gulf War, which also has been known to have been used in terrorist attacks. What you may not know is, anthrax is an infectious virus caused by bacterium called Bacillus Anthracis. This name is derived from the ancient Greek word "anthrakis", which means coal, and is so named due to the black lesions produced by the infection. This infectious disease has been around for over a thousand years and possibly much more. Some researchers believe that the fifth and sixth plague of ancient Egypt that is described in the Old Testament was probably caused by anthrax. Also, the "Black Bane" plague that broke out in central Europe in the 1600's, which killed an estimated 60,000 domestic cattle, is also believed to be due to anthrax.
Anthrax is caused by the sporulating bacterium Bacillus Anthracis which can be found in the soil in many parts of the world. The spores found in infected animal carcasses can contaminate the pasture it lies in for extensive periods of time and may lead to future sporatic outbreaks. Though the disease is naturally found in herbivorous animals, it can also be found in humans as well, but is not as common. Generally speaking, animals contract the disease by ingesting the harmful spores that may lie on grass and in the environment. Until a vaccine was developed, the disease was fairly common amongst cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and pigs. Now, there have been only a handful of reported cases of anthrax infections within the past 10 years. Anthrax infections in humans are even more rare, but none the less, still posses a threat.