91/11/2001: The Day That Changed America
What to Know About Anthrax
Reprinted from Junior Scholastic, November 12, 2001

The discovery of anthrax in mail sent to government offices and news organizations has Americans worried. The good news is that the disease is rare. It is extremely unlikely that children would be exposed to the disease. Junior Scholastic had these questions for U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher:

Q: What is anthrax?
A: Anthrax is a disease caused by bacteria. It most commonly occurs in animals such as sheep or goats, but can occur in people exposed to the bacteria.

Q: How is it spread?
A: Anthrax is not contagious—it cannot be transmitted from person to person. Infection can occur (1) if spores enter through breaks in the skin; (2) through inhaling anthrax spores; and (3) through the digestive system.

Q: Is anthrax treatable?
A: Anthrax is very treatable. The chance of recovery is practically 100 percent if caught early.

Q: What are the symptoms?
A: Anthrax starts out with symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, and mild chest discomfort followed by severe breathing problems. People should not buy medicine to treat themselves, but go to a doctor if they feel ill.

Q: What can kids do?
A: Stay calm. Be cautious about opening suspicious-looking mail from people you don't know. Tell parents or teachers if you suspect something is wrong.