As a Category A Priority Pathogen according to the classification by the CDC, anthrax has one of the higher potentials for a negative impact on the public health as well as national security. It shares this uncoveted position with things like the plague, smallpox, and botulism.
There are four different forms that it can take when presenting in humans, and in the past years it has been quite a deadly problem. However, with modern technology, there have been several forms of anthrax antibiotic which are now able to help a sufferer recover in most cases, and the mortality rate has declined significantly. It is best to be aware of the possibilities so that any signs can be noticed and the proper treatment regimen taken.
The skin form of an anthrax infection is also known as cutaneous anthrax.
Skin lesions will eventually turn into ulcers, and a black center makes it quite identifiable when it does show up on a person's skin surface. The version which affects the lungs is usually received through the inhalation of spores of the bacteria, and while the mortality rate has declined, it is still fatal in almost half of the cases. Then there is the intestinal manifestation which usually comes about from eating the meat of undercooked animals which have ingested the toxin. Finally, a newer injection form is seen mostly in Northern European heroin users who get it from the concoction that they take in through the needle.
The bacteria which causes these infections is called by its scientific name Bacillus anthracis, and it is quite resilient in the wild. It has been shown that these spores can lay dormant in the soil for decades and still have the ability to infect grazing animals or humans who come into contact with it many years later. Thankfully, there are anthrax antibiotics which can help.
If a person knows that they have been exposed to the bacteria, then it is recommended that they begin the antibiotic regimen because it can prevent an infection from developing in many cases. In those who are already at the infection stage, it is vital that the anthrax antibiotic is administered in order to prevent complications and death.
The United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has three antibiotics which are approved for use in these situations: ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, and penicillin. In the case of a bioterrorism attack or some other type of outbreak, it is likely that the government will announce to the public about places where these will be made available. It is best for a person to try and take anthrax antibiotic before they begin feeling sick. This helps it to work on anthrax within the body while it is still growing and before it has begun releasing the toxin.In any case, it can generally take months for the antibiotic to be able to fully get rid of anthrax in a person's system, and so it is vital that the entire dosage is taken according to the directions even if a person begins to feel better.
Vancomycin and erythromycin are alternatives which might be used though they are not currently FDA approved. In an emergency, they could also be given in large doses either intravenously or orally.
There are also vaccines which can help to prevent the infection from occurring, and in many cases, that might be prescribed along with anthrax antibiotic in order to give the human body the boost it needs to fight back effectively. In the United States, BioThrax is the name of the vaccine which is licensed by the FDA.
There are also many new second-generation vaccines being worked on as well as attempts at new antibiotics which are formulated especially for Bacillus anthracis. However, what is currently available on the market and outlined above is sufficient treatment if taken early enough because anthrax is an infection whose mortality rate increases the longer that treatment is delayed. The number of cases each year is rather limited, but it can make big news when something is seen in the public.
Hopefully, no one will ever have to worry about the devastating outbreak, but it is good to know that there are treatment options available if a large portion of society is exposed.