Preventive therapy & treatment
Exposure to potentially aerosolized Bacillus anthracis spores
Anthrax spores grow like plant seeds. If you plant seeds and give them sun and water, they will grow into plants. If you give anthrax spores the right environment, such as the human body, they can grow into the harmful form of the bacteria that can cause anthrax disease. It takes anthrax spores an average of 7 days to grow into the harmful form of the bacteria, but it can take longer.
In fact, spores can stay in your body for some time before they start growing and causing you to become ill. When the spores are not growing, antibiotics are not effective.
Only after the spores start to grow can the antibiotics work. Therefore, you need a constant level of antibiotic in your body for 60 days to make sure that when the spores start to grow, the antibiotic is there to kill them.
Ciprofloxacin and doxycycline are FDA-approved for PEP in adults and children, and levofloxacin is FDA-approved for PEP in adults ages 18 and older.
Ciprofloxacin, or cipro as it is commonly known, is a broad-spectrum, synthetic antimicrobial agent active against several microorganisms. The use of ciprofloxacin is warranted only under the strict supervision of a physician.
Side effects of Cipro
Common side effects of Cipro include an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, dizziness, or headache. If you have problems with any of these symptoms, tell your doctor. Less common side effects include pain in arms or legs, changes in vision, restlessness, ringing in the ears, or mental changes. If any of these symptoms occur, call your doctor right away.
Risks of tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones like cipro for children
Risks of using tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones in children must be weighed carefully against the risk for developing a life-threatening disease due to Bacillus anthracis. Both agents can have adverse health reactions in children. If adverse reactions are suspected, therapy may be changed to amoxicillin or penicillin.
A vaccine has been developed for anthrax that is protective against invasive disease, but it is currently only recommended for high-risk populations. CDC and academic partners are continuing to support the development of the next generation of anthrax vaccines.