STEP 241: Pathogenesis of Bacillus Anthracis Infections (CE: 0.5)


The spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis is the cause of the acute and often lethal disease anthrax. The agent was isolated and characterized by Robert Koch, who described its cultural and morphological characteristics in detail in 1867. This organism fulfilled Koch's postulates for the first time. While anthrax currently affects mostly livestock and wildlife around the world, it can and does kill humans. Indeed, the great current interest in anthrax is because of its potential as an agent of bioterrorism and biowarfare. This article discusses the pathology, characteristics, manifestations, and laboratory diagnosis of B. anthracis, as well as treatment methodologies and the use of anthrax as a biological weapon.


Learning Objectives:

  • Define the characteristics of B. anthracis
  • Outline the pathology of B. anthracis
  • Reflect on B. anthracis as a biological weapon



Ricarte A. Gallarte, RM, MT


Launched: 2002