Antibiotics to Prevent Anthrax After Exposure

Antibiotics can prevent anthrax from developing in people who have been exposed but have not developed symptoms. Antibiotics work in two main ways, by killing the anthrax or by stopping the anthrax from growing. When the anthrax can’t grow anymore, it dies. Two of the antibiotics that could be used to prevent anthrax are:

  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Doxycycline

Each of these antibiotics offers the same protection against anthrax. Anthrax spores typically take 1 to 7 days to be activated, but some spores can remain inside the body and take up to 60 days or more before they are activated. Activated spores release toxins—or poisons—that attack the body, causing the person to become sick. That’s why people who have been exposed to anthrax must take antibiotics for 60 days. This will protect them from any anthrax spores in their body when the spores are activated.

Anthrax spores can take up to 60 days or more to be activated in the body
A timeline graphic to illustrate that anthrax spores can activate up to 60 days after exposure.

Video: Anthrax and Antibiotics

A video about anthrax and antibiotics.

Anthrax could be used as a weapon of bioterrorism. Even though an anthrax attack is unlikely, you should know what to do just in case.

Additional Information