Recommended antibiotics currently include ciprofloxacin and doxycycline. Anthrax spores can remain hidden and inactive in lungs for a long period of time, so treatment usually lasts for at least 60 days. Natural strains of anthrax can often be treated by antibiotics such as penicillin. There are concerns that the strains of anthrax used by terrorist organizations may be resistant to antibiotics. The CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) in the United States has indicated to date that all anthrax infections related to terrorist attacks have been susceptible to antibiotic treatment.
Researchers at Harvard University are now working on an antidote for the anthrax toxin that is released by the anthrax bacterium. This may help with future infections or for those that show resistance to antibiotics.
Anthrax produces symptoms similar to viral infections such as a cold. It might seem like a good idea to take antibiotics if cold symptoms occur "just in case" it might be anthrax. However, antibiotics are not effective for viral infections and only work on bacteria. By taking antibiotics when you don’t have an infection, you are taking the risk that the bacteria in your body will develop resistance to the antibiotic. Then when you need those antibiotics to fight a future infection, they will not work. Do not take antibiotics without the advice of your physician. If you suspect you may have been exposed to anthrax, you should seek immediate medical attention.
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