CDC and AAP say pediatricians should be ready to treat children for anthrax

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that children may need different treatment than adults after exposure to anthrax, and pediatricians should prepare.

Because anthrax, an infection caused by Bacillus anthracis, can cause thousands of infections and deaths, the AAP and CDC said pediatricians need to be prepared to treat children, according to HealthDay News.

The bacteria is inactive until it enters the body through breathing, openings in the skin or through the gastrointestinal tract. When it becomes active, B. anthracis reproduces and generates a toxin, which causes severe illness with a high death rate. The illness is not contagious.

The disease is treated by antibiotics, which can prevent sickness if they are taken within 72 hours, HealthDay News reports.

The bacteria is naturally occurring and can live dormant for years in the soil. Animals, such as cattle, are routinely vaccinated against the disease.

A vaccine for anthrax does not exist for humans, but multiple government and private sector agencies are researching and developing effective treatments and vaccines.

The AAP said it is important for pediatricians to be able to diagnose and treat their young patients, and that doctors play an important role in helping families comply with treatment, according to HealthDay News.

The report was published in the online journal Pediatrics.