A number of attenuated, partially attenuated, and fully virulent strains of B. anthracis have been utilized over the years for vaccine development and animal challenge studies which are fully described. A description of early veterinary vaccine development followed by the development of human vaccines and their relative safety and incidence of adverse reactions are presented in considerable detail. Studies on the elucidation of the major factors of virulence, the lethal and edema toxins and capsule formation and their encoding by plasmids constitutes a major advance in the understanding of the genetic factors influencing anthrax and the critical antigens involved in the development of vaccines. The development of a variety of different potential vaccines are discussed including attenuated whole cell vaccines, unattenuated dead cell vaccines, purified protein based vaccines, recombinant protein based vaccines, vaccines utilizing bacterial vectors, viral vectors, and eukaryotic vectors and the efficacy of various adjuvants are presented in detail. A notably comprehensive presentation of macrophage studies associated with various animal models of anthrax is used to facilitate a clarified presentation of the biochemical factors involved in anthrax infections and their influence on the innate immune system. Detection of B. anthracis in environmental samples is invariably based on detection of spores. A variety of immunological methods are described for the rapid detection of B. anthracis spores in environmental samples.
Keywords: Major strains of B. anthracis; plasmid pXO1 plasmid pXO2; capsule; innate immune response; immunological detection; adjuvants; eucaryotic vaccine vectors; viral vaccine vectors; bacterial vaccine vectors, passive immunization; cytokines; chemokines; oxidative burst; complement; mice; rats; rabbits, guinea pigs; monkeys.