Woolsorter's disease; Ragpicker's disease; Cutaneous anthrax; Gastrointestinal anthrax
Most people with anthrax are treated with antibiotics. Several antibiotics are effective, including penicillin, doxycycline, and ciprofloxacin.
When treating inhalational anthrax, a combination of antibiotics should be used. Doctors often start treatment with ciprofloxacin plus another drug, given through a vein (intravenously). The length of treatment is about 60 days for people who have been exposed to anthrax, because it may take spores that long to germinate.
Cutaneous (skin) anthrax is treated with antibiotics taken by mouth, usually for 7 to 10 days. Doxycycline and ciproflaxin are most often used.
When treated with antibiotics, cutaneous anthrax is likely to get better. However, up to 20% of people who do not get treatment may die if anthrax spreads to the blood.
People with second-stage inhalation anthrax have a poor outlook, even with antibiotic therapy. Up to 90% of cases in the second stage are fatal.
Gastrointestinal anthrax infection can spread to the bloodstream, and may result in death.
Call your health care provider if you have been exposed to anthrax, or if you develop symptoms of any type of anthrax.
Lucey DR, Anthrax. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 317.
Martin GJ, Friedlander Am. Bacillus anthracis (anthrax). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 208.
Reissman DB, Whitney EA, Taylor TH Jr, et al. One-year health assessment of adult survivors of Bacillus anthracis infection. JAMA. 2004/291:1994-1998.
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