Minnesota anthrax patient released

A 61-year-old Florida man who successfully fought off a naturally occurring anthrax infection was recently released from a Minnesota hospital.

Dan Anders and his wife Anne were finishing up a three week summer vacation on the road visiting the parks of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas when they stopped in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, in early August to visit some friends, according to StarTribune.com.

Anders, an avid outdoorsman, began feeling bad and ended up hospitalized just two days laters.

"I was overtired," Anders said, StarTribune.com reports. "That's what I thought."

Doctors said Anders’ condition was much worse than routine fatigue. He had contracted a rare and extremely deadly form of naturally occurring anthrax infection, which led to his hospitalization for three weeks, with much of that time spent in critical condition.

Because of anthrax’s potential use as a terrorist weapon, his illness sparked a nationwide alert and the FBI was called in to investigate. Medical experts are still trying to understand how Anders could have breathed in the anthrax spores, which can exist in the soil or in animals.

"We were tourists," Anne, his wife of 36 years, said, according to StarTribune.com. "And now look where we are."

Anders is close to being fully recovered from his ordeal. He is somewhat weak and prone to fits of coughing.

"I'm feeling pretty good for what I've been through," Anders said, StarTribune.com reports.

Dr. Joe Meyer treated Anders for pneumonia at a hospital in nearby Fergus Falls, Minn., but was alarmed by the X-rays Anders received. It was unlike any other case that he had encountered before.

"I knew that this was going to be something serious," Meyer said, StarTribune.com reports.

Meyer sent a specimen to a lab at the hospital, which came back positive for the uncommon bacillus strain, the same family as anthrax. The report was later confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Public Health.

"It's an extremely rare occurrence," state epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said, StarTribune.com reports. "It isn't something that one would expect in somebody coming to their ER."

The staff at Fergus Falls, she said, deserves credit for acting so quickly.