Disease & Vaccine Information

Is Anthrax Contagious?

Updated August 13, 2022


Anthrax is not a contagious disease. It is not possible for someone who is directly exposed to anthrax spores and becomes sick to transmit the disease to someone else by coughing or sneezing like many other infectious diseases.  Everyone who gets sick with anthrax must have come into direct contact with the bacteria through a cut in the skin, inhaling the spores into the lungs, or swallowing the spores, such as by eating contaminated meat. Rarely, it is possible to develop anthrax by coming into contact with the skin lesions of someone who is infected with anthrax.1    

The most common way to get anthrax is through exposure to an infected animal or animal waste and by-products. Veterinarians, farmers, or researchers working with animals are at higher risk, as are those working in industries that handle animal by-products like meat and animal skins. The cutaneous (skin) form of anthrax, the most common form, has a very low death rate with appropriate antibiotic therapy after exposure.2 3


References:

1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How People Get Anthrax. In: Anthrax. Nov. 20, 2020.

2 Medline Plus. Anthrax. In: Health Topics. Mar. 10, 2021.

3 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Types of Anthrax. In: Anthrax. Nov. 20, 2020.

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