Anthrax case definition

This document contains the case definitions for Anthrax which is nationally notifiable within Australia. This definition should be used to determine whether a case should be notified.

Page last updated: 12 March 2004

Australian national notifiable diseases case definitions - Anthrax


Only confirmed cases should be notified.

Confirmed case

A confirmed case requires either:

1. Laboratory definitive evidence


2. Laboratory suggestive evidence AND clinical evidence.

Laboratory definitive evidence

Isolation of Bacillus anthracis -like organisms or spores confirmed by a reference laboratory.

Laboratory suggestive evidence

1. Detection of Bacillus anthracis by microscopic examination of stained smears


2. Detection of Bacillus anthracis by nucleic acid testing.

Clinical evidence

1. Cutaneous: skin lesion evolving over 1-6 days from a papular through a vesicular stage, to a depressed black eschar invariably accompanied by oedema that may be mild to extensive


2. Gastrointestinal: abdominal distress characterised by nausea, vomiting, anorexia and followed by fever


3. Rapid onset of hypoxia, dyspnoea and high temperature, with radiological evidence of mediastinal widening


4. Meningeal: acute onset of high fever, convulsions, loss of consciousness and meningeal signs and symptoms.

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