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Questions Regarding Anthrax & Smallpox

What is anthrax and is a vaccine available?

Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax Vaccine is not recommended for children under the age of 18. At this time, it is not available commercially except to the military because of the risk the military may encounter in their work.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommend anthrax vaccination for military personnel deployed to high risk areas, people who work the organism in a laboratory, people who work with imported animal hide or furs in high risk areas, and people who handle potentially infected animal products.

For more information on Anthrax, log onto

For the U.S. Public Health Service's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations on anthrax vaccination, log onto


Is smallpox a threat and is a vaccine available?

The last case of smallpox on earth occurred in Somalia, in 1977. In 1980, the World Health Organization certified that smallpox had been eradicated from the planet.

Currently, the only known remaining samples of smallpox virus are held in secure facilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA, and the Institute for Viral Preparations in Koltsovo, Russia. Although destruction of all remaining samples of smallpox virus has been proposed, the United States government has decided to permanently store its samples of smallpox virus. Allegations and rumors of smallpox virus stocks in other locations have not been verified.

As a result of the successful eradication program, smallpox vaccine was removed from the commercial market in 1983, and is no longer a licensed product in the United States. The United States Public Health Service maintains an emergency stockpile of approximately 15 million doses.

At the present time, smallpox vaccine is supplied only to certain laboratory workers who are at risk of infection with smallpox-like viruses because of their occupation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not allow the release of smallpox vaccine to any other person for any reason.

For more information on Smallpox, log onto or

For the U.S. Public Health Service's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations on smallpox vaccination, log onto


For more information on CDCís Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program, log onto

Prepared by the Virginia Department of Healthís Office of Epidemiology, September 2001.

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