The media have trained us to fear Anthrax even though it is a naturally occurring substance found in the soil of any working farm. Militarized Anthrax is not the natural Anthrax you find on a farm. Anthrax that has been militarized means that is has been “ground up” into the tiniest possible spore form for easy transmission in the air via the wind for inhalation into the lungs. Once Anthrax gets inside your body, your chances of survival are not very good. Militarized Anthrax is a silent killer that takes a bit of time to develop in the body as a cause of death, so marking the time and point of infection is more difficult, and that makes Militarized Anthrax an effective, invisible, assassin. Anthrax, and its natural danger to humans, is all around us all the time.
Most farmers have had Anthrax infections and they usually wipe it off their skin and continue working. A scar will be left behind, but Anthrax on the skin is common and not usually deadly.
There are other, less obvious, but still lethal, ways to spread Anthrax
infections — and the cause is usually due to unwitting transference
between dead animal skins
and living human flesh.
On February 23, 2006, we wrote about a New York Anthrax Scare due to infected goat skins. In 2007, two people in Connecticut were treated for cutaneous Anthrax infections from African drums made from animal skins; and just last month we had a unique case of gastrointestinal Anthrax poisoning via an animal skin drum:
Officials at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was one of the nation’s only reported cases of gastrointestinal anthrax, an extremely rare form of the disease that typically occurs in people who eat infected meat.
Investigators found traces of anthrax on two African drums and an electrical outlet in the room where the event took place, Dr. Talbot said, and are theorizing that the woman swallowed spores that were aerosolized by the drumming. The state has not identified the woman because of privacy concerns.
Dr. Talbot said the anthrax detected on the drums was a naturally occurring strain that frequently appears in soil. Animals that ingest contaminated soil can pass the disease to people who handle their hides. Most of the drums at the session were made with animal hides, she said.
These episodes of infections between the animal world and the human realm are haunting reminders of the ongoing battle between nature and industrialization — and we must always be vigilant when we decide to mix the dangers of the old world with the pleasures of the modern and let’s shiver together that the day never comes when Militarized Anthrax finds its way into a an animal skin drum for microscopic, terroristic, delivery.