Author(s): Vietri NJ, Purcell BK, Tobery SA, Rasmussen SL, Leffel EK,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Postexposure prophylaxis of inhalational anthrax requires prolonged antibiotic therapy or antibiotics and vaccination. The duration of treatment for established anthrax is controversial, because retained spores may germinate and cause disease after antibiotics are discontinued. Using rhesus macaques, we determined whether a short course of antibiotic treatment, as opposed to prophylaxis, could effectively treat inhalational anthrax and prevent disease caused by the germination of spores after discontinuation of antibiotics. METHODS: Two groups of 10 rhesus macaques were exposed to an aerosol dose of Bacillus anthracis spores. Animals in group 1 received ciprofloxacin prophylaxis beginning 1-2 h after exposure. Those in group 2 began receiving ciprofloxacin after becoming bacteremic, and treatment was continued for 10 days. When each group 2 animal completed 10 days of therapy, the prophylactic antibiotic was discontinued in the paired group 1 animal. RESULTS: In group 1 (prophylaxis), no deaths occurred during antibiotic treatment, but only 2 (20\%) of 10 animals survived after antibiotics were discontinued. In contrast, in group 2 (treatment), 3 deaths occurred during antibiotic treatment, but all 7 animals (100\%) alive after 10 days of therapy survived when antibiotics were discontinued. CONCLUSIONS: In the treatment of inhalational anthrax, the prolonged course of antibiotics required to achieve prophylaxis may not be necessary to prevent anthrax that results from the germination of retained spores after the discontinuation of antibiotics.
This article was published in J Infect Dis
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals