The bacterium are normally found in the soil, livingin inactive spore forms4. The inactive form lives in the groundundisturbed but regularly infects wild animals after ingestion of the spores.The spores can be transported by different herbivores and domestic farm animalssuch as cattle, goats, and deer4. In areas of common infection, animalshave regular vaccination to prevent outbreaks and there is an increased risk oftransmission between the people that encounter these animals along with theskins, mead, and bones of the animals4.
In order for the cells togerminate without a host, it needs optimal conditions such as alkaline pH, highorganic and moisture levels in addition to warmer tmeperatures4. Different factors can enhance the density ofspores in a particular area. Some factors include increased rainfall, andwarmer temperatures. Increased rainfall after a drought in particular increasesthe movement of the bacteria and can deposit the Bacillus Anthracis spores into a new area such as a pasture forcattle or sheep. Vultures are also known to carry the spores after harvestingon an infected carcass and help spread the endospores to other parts of theworld. The spores can live in the soil for decades and once they have become establishedin an area, its almost impossible to remove them1.
The bacteriumhave become resistant to different types of disinfectants which increases therisk of coming in contact with a herbivorous animal or occupational worker. Thebacteria usually live in the endospore form when exposed to differentenvironmental elements until they find a host that provided them with optimalconditions. A temperature between 8 and 45 degrees Celsius, pH of 5-9,increased humidity and adequate nutrients will begin the germination process ofthe spores6. There has been increasing amounts of research regardingthe survival of anthrax spore in the permafrost in Artic regions from centuriesago as the increase in climate change thaws the regions, unveiling new possibleoutbreaks. The main preventative measure is a vaccine that isnot available to the public. The vaccine is given to military personnel in theUnited States only with some exceptions for medical officials in the time of ananthrax emergency6. There is a pre-exposure vaccination that isrecommended for agricultural workers with risk of coming in contact withcontaminated animals.
The vaccination is also recommended for workers inlaboratories that are concentrating on the strains in a BSL 2 or higher lab,and veterinarians that are at a high risk of being infected throughoccupational exposures in various countries6. Ifthere was a health hazard bioterrorist threat in the form of inhalationanthrax, the Center of Disease Control has plans of action to isolate theinfected and prevent additional infections. The use of monitoring systemsthroughout the United States would be one of the first methods of detecting thespores after the release2. The other method of surveillance would bethe reporting by doctors when patients start exhibiting symptoms and labtesting is ordered. The response would be to send the sample through theLaboratory Response network and educating other health care professionals onthe issue along with the general public2. Once confirmed, medicineand additional supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile would bedispersed in the designated locations2. These preventative stepswould prevent further infections from the virulent bacteria and protect the atrisk populations.