Cases of human anthrax are very rare in industrialized countries, though the bacteria is widespread in nature. Exposure to tens of thousands of spores are necessary for infection. Anthrax is not contagious.
The United States has only had 18 cases of pulmonary anthrax reported in the last 100 years.
As of Nov. 21, 2001, 18 cases of anthrax had occured in the U.S. - 11 cases of inhalation and 7 cutaneous cases. Five deaths have occured.
Tuesday, October 23: confirmation that two postal handlers died of pulmonary anthrax. The men were identified as Joseph P. Curseen, 47, and Thomas L. Morris Jr., 55.
date?: Kathy Nguyen, a New York City hospital worker dies of anthrax.
November 21: Ottilie Lungren, an almost housebound Connecticut woman does of inhalation anthrax. She was 94 years old.
Erin O'Connor, contracted cutaneous anthrax. Exposed at NBC offices, New York.
Unidentified baby boy, contracted cutaneous anthrax, presumably at ABC news office, New York.
Unidentified female CBS employee, contracted cutaneous anthrax, presumably at CBS offices, New York.
Unidentified postal employee, contracted cutaneous anthrax, presumably at Hamilton Township postal facility, New Jersey.
Exposed Thousands of people are taking antibiotics in case of anthrax exposure. These include postal workers in at least 5 states as well as workers in US government offices in Washington, DC.
Five additional employees at American Media were exposed.
Two New York lab technicians and a policeman were exposed while investigating the NBC case.
Thirty-one people at the Capitol complex in Washington D.C., including two police officers, were exposed.