Children and Anthrax: A Fact Sheet for Clinicians Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Children, like adults, may be affected by three clinical forms: cutaneous, inhalational, or gastrointestinal. The symptoms and signs of anthrax infection in children older than 2 months of age are similar to those in adults. The clinical presentation of anthrax in young infants is not well defined. When children become ill and present for treatment, making a diagnosis may be more difficult than in adults because young children have difficulty reporting what has happened to them or telling a doctor exactly how they feel. Because respiratory illnesses are much more common in children than adults, the examining clinician should have an understanding of disease manifestations in children.
Explaining Anthrax to Children Because of extensive media coverage, parents across the country might soon find themselves faced with some difficult questions from their children about bioterrorism, anthrax, and other infections like smallpox that could be turned into biological weapons. Here is some information to help you deal with your child's concerns. As always, try to provide direct, honest answers to your child's questions that are appropriate for her level of understanding. Be careful not to overwhelm her with too much information all at once, and don't be afraid to admit it if you don't have all the answers.