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In most cases, treatment for anthrax involves antibiotics and providing relief of symptoms and complications as the body fights the infection. If a diagnosis of anthrax is made early, treatment with antibiotics can be successful. Once the more severe symptoms begin to develop, the destructive toxins associated with the disease have already risen to high levels, which can make treatment difficult.

Anthrax Treatment: An Overview

An anthrax infection is commonly treated with antibiotics. Relief of symptoms and complications (supportive care) are also provided as the body fights the anthrax bacteria.
If an anthrax diagnosis is made early, the disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, infected people often confuse early symptoms with more common infections, such as the flu or common cold, and do not seek medical help until severe anthrax symptoms appear. By that time, the destructive toxins have already risen to high levels, making anthrax treatment difficult. Antibiotics can kill the bacteria, but they have no effect on the toxins.

Treating Anthrax With Antibiotics

Antibiotics used to treat anthrax in both adults and children include:
A doctor may prescribe these medications individually or in combination.
There are different types of the anthrax bacteria, known as strains. Some strains may be naturally resistant to certain antibiotics and not others. In addition, there may be biologically altered strains that are engineered to be resistant to various antibiotics. A laboratory analysis can help define which strain of anthrax is present and which antibiotic would be the most effective for anthrax treatment.
Also, as with all medicines, side effects can occur with these antibiotics. Some of these side effects are more common in children. Risks of using doxycycline or ciprofloxacin in children must be weighed carefully against the risks anthrax presents.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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