Anthrax case reported in Minnesota

A case of inhalation anthrax in Minnesota is not being considered a criminal or terrorist act by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Both the FBI and the Minnesota Department of Public Health are investigating what is believed to be a rare case of naturally occurring inhalation anthrax contracted by a person who recently travelled through North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, according to

The infected person was hospitalized in Minnesota after coming down with a fever and pneumonia.

"All evidence points to this case of anthrax being caused by exposure to naturally occurring anthrax in the environment," Minnesota state epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield said, AFP reports. "Anthrax is not spread from person to person, and it is extremely rare for humans to become sickened with anthrax, especially through inhalation."

Anthrax spores exist naturally in the environment and the disease can be found regularly in cattle and other hoofed animals. The often deadly infection can be contracted through handling infected animal hides or meat. Anthrax is now often associated with terrorism because of a series of postal attacks that killed five in the United States in 2001.

Symptoms of anthrax illness include fever and muscle aches that last several days before disappearing suddenly. The disease then returns and lung problems become evident. Patients have difficulty breathing and lapse into a state of shock. Inhalation anthrax is fatal in approximately 90 percent of cases if not treated.

The Minnesota Department of Health has not provided any additional information related to the infected patient.