23 February 2006

Anthrax through the ages

An interesting graphical look at anthrax through the ages, from being a biblical plague to a modern weapon of war. A health24 exclusive.

The history of anthrax
An interesting look through the ages
c. 1500 B.C.
The fifth and the sixth plagues described in the Book of Genesis closely resemble the symptoms of anthrax. The fifth killed off livestock and the sixth caused boils, a symptom of anthrax
c. 1200 B.C.
In the introductory paragraph of Homer's Illiad, he describes 'Appollo's burning wind of plague', which may well have been anthrax.
c. 200 B.C
Roman armies put the bodies of infected animals in the drinking water of their enemies.
29 B.C.
Virgil's Georgics (on the topic of farming) describe the symptoms of anthrax very accurately.
The Huns , as they moved across Eurasia, lost 40, 000 horses and 100,000 head of cattle to anthrax.
Named the 'Black Bane', a disease thought to be anthrax killed more than 60,000 head of cattle in Europe.
The bacterial origin of anthrax is confirmed by Robert Koch
Livestock immunised successfully for the first time against anthrax
In the US, German agents were suspected of injecting horses, cattle and mules with anthrax as they were on their way to Europe.
An effort was made by German agents in Norway to sabotage the supply lines of the Allied powers by spreading anthrax amongst the horses and reindeer that were used for military transport.
A Japanese biological warfare programme is started in Manchuria. Tests were done involving anthrax.
Anthrax weapons begin to be developed in the United States.
An outbreak of anthrax in Iran kills 1 million sheep.
After World War II, the US carries on its biological warfare programme in Maryland until 1969, when it was ended by Nixon.
The US Food and Drug Administration approves an anthrax vaccine.
An International convention outlaws the development and stockpiling of biological weapons.
A hundred people die in an outbreak of human anthrax in Zimbabwe.
In the industrial city of Sverdlovsk, anthrax spores were sprayed into air at a Soviet military facility, which killed 66 people.
The US troops bound for the Gulf War were vaccinated against anthrax.
A month before releasing nerve gas in the Tokyo Underground, the terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo released anthrax, but no-one was affected.
Iraq admits to having stockpiled 8500 litres of concentrated anthrax.
In the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, 20 people fall ill after eating the carcasses of an infected cow and goat.
Several letters containing anthrax spores are mailed to media companies shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. In Florida, one man dies and the US congressional offices are evacuated after 31 employees test positive for exposure to anthrax.
The first positive case of anthrax spores found outside the United States. Powder in a letter from Atlanta was posted to a man in Kenya who has tested positive for exposure to anthrax spores.

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