This year, thousands of military members from the navy, air and space force, and coast guard filed class action lawsuits against the government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate issued by the Department of Defence. Many soldiers have requested an exemption from COVID-19 vaccination on religious grounds, yet very few were accommodated and some were disciplined or forced into premature discharge or retirement. This could, however, be history repeating itself—something strikingly similar happened two decades ago.
Anthrax and Vaccine Mandates in the Military
Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus Anthracis. It is found in nature and commonly infects animals when they ingest anthrax spores. The spores become activated to multiply and can produce toxins that lead to disease.
However, anthrax is not a major issue in the United States because it mostly affects livestock, which are usually vaccinated against it. In humans, anthrax may cause ulcers, skin sores, and other flu-like symptoms. According to the CDC, anthrax is not contagious or generally transmissible between humans.
Anthrax has also been around for a long time. The discovery of anthrax can be traced back to around 700 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The first modern clinical description of anthrax was documented in the mid-18th century, and the first anthrax vaccine for animals was developed in 1881 by Louis Pasteur. Anthrax was used by German physician Robert Koch to develop Koch’s Postulates, a set of criteria used until today to determine whether an organism is the cause of disease.
There are four types of anthrax known today in terms of the route of infection. The first three are called cutaneous, inhalation, and gastrointestinal anthrax which are when anthrax enters the body through an open wound, through breathing spores in, or through ingesting contaminated food. A relatively novel form of anthrax was found in heroin addicts when the first cluster of cases appeared in the U.K. and Germany around 2010. Unfortunately, many Americans know anthrax due to different reasons.