Anthrax fears overblown?

As near as I can tell, most victims of the anthrax scare have tested positive only for exposure to anthrax. My understanding is that these people would probably never catch anthrax even if they didn’t take antibiotics. In other words, small exposure to anthrax isn’t enough to cause any health problems.

From what I’ve read and seen, it appears that the anthrax is being delivered via a powder and officials are warning people not to lick, smell, or eat the powder. (Do people do these things with envelopes of strange powder sent to them?)

Now, it appears to me that if a terrorist decided that they wanted to kill me via an anthrax envelope, the worst that would happen is that I would see that I got an envelope with powder in it, I would wash my hands thoroughly, and call the cops and local health officials. As a precaution (not a necessity), I would be given antibiotics.

In other words, as long as I don’t rub the powder into an open wound, lick it, sniff it, or eat it, the odds of me dying from this are pretty close to zero.

With that said, why are people so nervous about anthrax?

I’m just waiting for them to put out a new album.

There are about a gazillion current threads on anthrax, including one on this very topic, in which I and others answer your question. But I’m way too tired to find a link. Try a search in GQ.

I tried the search and typed in ‘anthrax’ and got only one thread returned to me that seemed to have nothing to do with this question. Obviously, I can’t be the only one asking this question, which leads me to believe that the search function is a bit broken.

I then tried to look at threads for the past 20 days and I didn’t see anything that jumped out at me as answering this question. Granted, I probably missed some threads, though.

Aha, stupid me… I didn’t realize that the default message board on the search function isn’t the message board that I’m currently on.


For the record, the band is considering changing its name, feeling that the current name is no longer appropriate. In an interview, their lead guy compared his position to that of a band leader in 1937 being named “Freddie Hitler”.

Funny you should mention that, bpaulsen. Yesterday at work I removed some speakers for our old, defunct alarm system so that the painters could patch and paint. These were mounted in drywall, and a very small amount of dust fell to the floor. This dust was directly below the empty hole, and obviously from that hole.
Well, someone reported the powder and expressed concern that it might be anthrax.
I think some people will do anything for a little attention.

This is one of the few times that I’ve been glad the military made me take all those anthrax shots. Even with all the hoopla about them causing health problems (I don’t seem to have any), I’m just happy to be somehting like 99% immune.

Yay for me!

In the week or so during which these exposures have been reported, the anthrax attack represents one half of one percent of the unsolved murders for a typical week in the United States. Even on the day the one victim died he was probably only one of thirty murder victims that day. Another one hundred and sixteen died on the highway, two hundred and sixty eight were accidentally killed. Nine of those were killed by medical treatments.

So far, the risk of bioterrorism is considerably less than getting hit by falling objects, or visiting the doctor.

On the whole, yes, the danger is overblown.

By the way, the pneumonia comment earlier was a reference to the tendency of people to misuse antibiotics, which encourages the survival of individual organisms that are most resistant to the drug. Widespread misuse encourages the development of strains of survivors that can no longer be treated by existing antibiotics.


Rule of Reason: “If nobody uses it, there’s a reason.”

The danger is totally overblown because it makes a good new story. For the media, its a nice switch from Gary Condit or Global Warming so I think they’ll drive it as hard as they can until the novelty wears off. …and in the meantime, get everyone into a panic…

Well, colour me cynical, but (one presumes for shock value) these guys deliberately chose the name of a known horrible disease, one that has been touted for years as one of a possible range of bioweapons and now, when it has actually been used, they want to change their name? Please. This sounds to me like a cross between them being afraid they’ll lose album sales and some gratuitous free publicity.

You want to increase life expectancy? Stop smoking and wear a seatbelt.

So yes, it’s overblown in proportion to it’s current danger.

On the other hand, any “new” way of dying is always worthy of notice. Particularly when it is being targetted as a weapon. Particuarly when it’s being targetted at our politicial leaders. Particularly when it is directed by a hostile force. Particuarly when the incidence of it could be greatly increased with no warning.

So no, maybe it’s not so overblown.

Does that help?

Since it seems that the only way to get anthrax via an envelope is to sniff it, lick it, eat it, or rub it in an open wound… I have to ask: “Are there people that do that?”

Even before this anthrax scare, I would like to think that if I got an envelope full of powder, I would have the good sense to not try licking it. Furthermore, I would think I would have even more sense to wash my hands when the envelope also contains a threatening letter.

You don’t have to be cynical. They’re up front about the fact that they’re worried that they’ll lose bookings and so on. I heard it on the radio. Here’s the bit in the Washington Post:

Methinks he knows how to play the publicity, too.

Nope, but you will publicly nark on your girlfriend’s mom for committing a misdemeanor, and probably pointlessly ingest an inappropriatly timed dosage of an antibiotic you don’t need for protection that you won’t get from a disease you won’t be exposed to.

Perhaps he plays better than he thinks. Come to think of it he almost has to play better, and that still would not be praise of his music, which I must confess I have never heard.


“It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.” ~ William G. McAdoo ~

Uh, does there remain a General Question here?