Clinical Signs Differ Between Inhalational Anthrax, Influenza
According to the Nov. 9 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 80 percent of the patients with inhalational anthrax had shortness of breath. In contrast, previous studies indicate that 6 percent of patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza or influenza-like illness reported this symptom.
Twelve percent of people with influenza or similar illnesses reported nausea or vomiting, compared with eight of the 10 patients with inhalational anthrax.
Although 6484 percent of patients who contract influenza or flu-like illnesses have a sore throat, only 20 percent of the patients with anthrax had this symptom. And a runny nose, which is observed in about 7080 percent of patients with influenza or similar illnesses, was seen in only one of the 10 patients with inhalational anthrax.
Half of the patients with inhalational anthrax reported having a headache, and half had muscle pain. In contrast, about 7590 percent of patients with influenza and influenza-like illnesses reported headaches, and about 6595 percent had muscle pain.
All 10 cases of inhalational anthrax have been characterized by fatigue, malaise, and fever or chillssymptoms that are also strongly associated with influenza and influenza-like illness. Each patient with inhalational anthrax had an abnormal chest radiograph, a finding not normally associated with influenza unless the patient is also young, elderly, or has a chronic lung disease.
An elevated temperature and a slight or unproductive cough occur about as often in patients with inhalational anthrax as in patients with influenza or influenza-like illness.