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Clinical Observation
November 10, 2003

Gastrointestinal Anthrax: Review of the Literature

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2003 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2003

Arch Intern Med. 2003;163(20):2527-2531. doi:10.1001/archinte.163.20.2527

Recent events have drawn attention to cases of inhalational and cutaneous anthrax associated with contaminated mail. Gastrointestinal anthrax, the disease caused by ingestion of Bacillus anthracis organisms, has rarely been reported in the United States. This review provides background information on the gastrointestinal form of the disease. We describe the clinical course of gastrointestinal anthrax, outline current therapy, review the microbiology of B anthracis, examine the epidemiology of natural outbreaks, discuss considerations regarding deliberate contamination, and summarize existing literature on the inactivation of spores present in food and water.