Severe respiratory anthrax can be cured, new study says

A recent study published in the April 2011 issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy is the first of its kind to characterize the severity of respiratory anthrax that can be cured.

Multi-agent prophylaxis initiated within 24 hours post-infection prevented development of fatal anthrax respiratory disease, and treatment combining antibiotics with immunization with a protective antigen-based vaccine conferred long-term protective immunity against the reestablishment of the disease, according to the report, reports.

The study, performed by researchers from the Israel Institute for Biological Research, tested both the efficiency of different therapeutic approaches in preventing fatal disease from developing in infected animals, and their ability to cure animals in which the disease had developed into a systemic, septic phase.

Most animals that received only antibiotic treatment died after their treatment stopped, according to Those that received both antibiotic treatment with a protective antigen vaccine, however, were fully protected even after the end of treatment.

Treatment remains possible with appropriate agents even if initiated two days after the infection, the study found. Infected guinea pigs and rabbits that exhibited low to moderate bacteremia were cured after being treated with the antibiotic cirpofloxacin and a monoclonal anti-protective antigen antibody.

The surviving animals, in all cases, developed immunity against anthrax via the subcutaneous challenge.