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Div. of Media Relations
1600 Clifton Road
MS D-14
Atlanta, GA 30333
(404) 639-3286
Fax (404) 639-7394

December 21, 2001
CDC, Press Office
(404) 639-3286

Backgrounder and Advisory

  • Many of those who were exposed to inhalational anthrax in the recent mail attacks are presently concluding their 60-day course of preventive antibiotic treatment. Some of these persons, especially those who may have been exposed to very high levels of anthrax spores, may wish to take additional precautions. Two additional options are available, beyond the 60-day antibiotic course, for those who may wish to pursue them: an extended course of antibiotics, and investigational post-exposure treatment with anthrax vaccine.

    Current Recommendation -- 60 days of antibiotic treatment, accompanied by careful monitoring for illness.

    Additional Option 1 -- 40 additional days of antibiotic treatment -- This course would be intended to provide protection against the theoretical possibility that spores might cause infection up to 100 days after exposure. It should be accompanied by monitoring for illness or adverse reactions.

    Additional Option 2 -- 40 additional days of antibiotic treatment, plus anthrax vaccine as an investigational treatment -- In addition to the 40 days of additional protection, this option would involve three doses of anthrax vaccine over a four-week period, to provide immunity to infection over a longer period of time. This is not currently an FDA-approved use of the vaccine, however the vaccine may provide additional protection by inducing an immune response to the anthrax organism. As an investigational new drug, the vaccine would need to be administered with the full informed consent of the individual as to possible risks. Individuals would also be asked to take part in a follow-up study measuring the effect of the vaccine when administered after exposure.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to work with state and local health departments, other federal agencies, the United States Postal Service (USPS), the United States Capitol physician, and private clinicians to make available anthrax vaccine to individuals who choose to take it after completing their recommended 60-day course of antibiotics to prevent anthrax infection.

  • CDC is deploying five teams, as needed, comprised of scientists and other staff to affected sites in Florida, Washington, D.C., New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut to oversee this program. These teams will be working directly with a medical contractor to administer vaccine and antibiotics to those who choose to receive it. The teams will also be responsible for making sure that vaccine is stored and administered properly, informed consent forms are signed, any needed adverse events diaries are completed, and to answer questions from individuals receiving the vaccine.

  • Today, CDC is hosting a live satellite broadcast from 12 noon–1:30 p.m. for public health officials and clinicians to provide details about this program and to answer questions regarding treatment options for prevention of inhalational anthrax for persons exposed to anthrax spores. Viewing information can be found at

  • CDC is also hosting today a satellite broadcast today via the United States Postal Service Network to provide USPS employees with direct access to top CDC physicians and scientists and information about this program. The objectives of the broadcast are to help all persons who were recommended 60 days of antibiotics to understand the reasons for the new options, and to provide information to help them make a decision. During this broadcast, only the CDC presenters will be seen and heard. Webcast information will be available at after 4 PM, EST.
CDC is committed to provide up-to-date information, with programs such as these, that deal with important emerging public health issues.

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This page last updated December 21, 2001

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