What is Bacillus Anthracis?

Bacillus Anthracis is a  bacteria that causes Anthrax, which is a deadly disease to humans and livestock that occur naturally in soil.


What is the History of Bacillus Anthracis?

Bacillus Anthracis cause Anthrax, which first appeared in the year 1491, the first microbiological breakthrough was made by Pierre Rayer and Casimir-Joseph Davaine in 1850 when they identified small rods, about half the length of red blood cells, in the blood of anthrax infected sheep. 

Many scientists started experimenting on anthrax infected blood but were unsuccessful to give information on how the bacteria get transmitted to the infected body.

The German physician named Robert Koch, grew the anthrax bacteria in culture plates, injected them into animals, and thereby revealed that the bacteria produced the disease. 


Basic information:

Bacillus Anthracis has two extrachromosomal DNA plasmids, pXO1 and pXO2, which are responsible for pathogenicity. It forms a protective layer called an endospore.

 It is formed in spores which exist in an inactive state. The spores can remain inactive for many years until they find their way into a host. Some examples of common hosts for anthrax are wild or domestic livestock, such as sheep, cattle, horses and goats. 

It is a rod-shaped bacterium that measures 1µ x 3-5µ. It is the only permanent pathogen within the genus Bacillus. Its infection is a type of zoonosis, as it is transmitted from animals to humans. People can get infected through breathing bacteria spores, contaminated food or water, and skin wounds.

Gram-stained culture specimen
This shows chains of gram-positive, Bacillus anthracis bacteria.

Types and Symptoms:

Symptoms of Bacillus Anthracis depend on the type of infection which takes up to one to two months to show its symptoms. Many types of anthrax have the potential to spread all over the body and even cause death.

Some types of anthrax and their symptoms are as follows:


  1. Cutaneous anthrax symptoms: 

    It appears in a group of small blisters that cause itchiness and swells. The sore will mostly appear on the face, neck, arm and hands.


  1. Inhalation anthrax symptoms:

   symptoms are fever and chills, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, confusion,

 cough, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, headache, etc.


  1. Gastrointestinal anthrax symptoms:

   Hoarseness, painful swallowing, swelling of the abdomen, fainting, sore throat, etc.



Doctors treat patients with antibiotics and antitoxin, patients with serious cases of anthrax need to be hospitalized. They may require treatment, such as fluid drainage and help to breathe through ventilation. Inhaled anthrax is difficult to treat. Some antibiotics are fluoroquinolones, doxycycline, erythromycin, vancomycin, or penicillin. People in the 18-65 age group come at a high risk to get infected with Bacillus Anthracis. Vaccines are also available for active immunization.



Bacillus Anthracis is a disease that is caused rarely in animals and humans, it has many types with similar symptoms which shows its presence late in the living body. This bacteria is not commonly present in normal day to day life, one cannot come in contact with this until having animal meat which gets slaughtered as sick.


-By Anjana Pujari

Content Writer (Erakina by RTMN)


One Comment

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