Case Study 3



Question 8 of 8

Two men were arrested in Nevada on the 19th of February 1998 on the assumption that they were in possession of large quantities of Bacillus anthracis. They actually possessed the harmless anthrax vaccine. What does the vaccine consist of?

A. B. anthracis without capsule
The antiphagocytic capsule is very important in the progression of anthrax since it protects the bacterium from being eliminated by cells of the immune system. Therefore, without the capsule B. anthracis can only multiply inside the body for a short time before the organism is eliminated by phagocytes. This allows the immune system to respond to the bacterium and form antibodies. If the vaccinated person is then infected with B. anthracis with capsule it can neutralize the toxins produced with the help of these antibodies.

This vaccine was first developed by Louis Pasteur for the vaccination of domestic animals such as cattle and sheep.

B. Inactivated B. anthracis
Although for many vaccines inactivated bacteria or components of the bacterial coat are used this is not the case for B. anthracis
C. Capsule-antigens
The capsule of this organism is not antigenic, which means it "hides" the organism from the immune system.
D. Inactivated anthrax toxin
Inactivated anthrax toxins could also be used for vaccination. However, to date attempts to use inactivated toxin as a vaccine have not been successful.

The Biology Project
University of Arizona
Tuesday, August 4, 1998
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