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Treatment

Doctors have several options for treating patients with anthrax, including antibiotics and antitoxin. Patients with serious cases of anthrax will need to be hospitalized. They may require aggressive treatment, such as continuous fluid drainage and help breathing through mechanical ventilation.

Antibiotics

All types of anthrax infection can be treated with antibiotics, including intravenous antibiotics (medicine given through the vein). If someone has symptoms of anthrax, it’s important to get medical care as quickly as possible to have the best chances of a full recovery. Doctors will select antibiotics that are best for treating anthrax and that are best for the patient based on their medical history.

Antitoxin A medical professional administers medicine intravenously. 

When anthrax spores get inside the body, they can be “activated.” When they become active, anthrax bacteria can multiply, spread out in the body, and produce toxins—or poisons. Anthrax toxins in the body cause severe illness. 

After anthrax toxins have been released in the body, one possible treatment is antitoxin. Antitoxins target anthrax toxins in the body. Doctors must use antitoxin together with other treatment options.  

Currently, there are a few types of antitoxins that can be used for treating anthrax.
 

NEW: Updated Recommendations for the Treatment of Anthrax

Updated clinical recommendations for anthrax in adults, pregnant and postpartum women, and children were released in 2014. These articles describe in detail recommendations for preventing anthrax, evaluating patients, and treating patients with anthrax:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Expert Panel Meetings on Prevention and Treatment of Anthrax in Adults

Special Considerations for Treatment of Anthrax in Pregnant and Postpartum Women

Pediatric Anthrax Clinical Management: Executive Summary

Clinical Report: Pediatric Anthrax Clinical Management

 

For More Information

  • Contact your local or state health department.
  • Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO).
 
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