Today it was announced that 75 individuals were possibly exposed to anthrax on June 13 while working at the CDC. The exposure is the result of an inactivation procedure not being performed properly. While many questions remain to be answered, a few points regarding anthrax are important to keep in mind:
- The actual risk of contracting anthrax after an exposure like this is probably very low. As such, of the 75 individuals possibly exposed only 7 are believed to have significant exposures.
- There is effective post-exposure prophylactic treatment available. Antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and doxycyline coupled with 3 doses of the vaccine is the recommended regime.
- None of the 10,000 exposed in 2001 who were given post-exposure prophylaxis--and poorly complied with it--developed anthrax.
The questions surrounding this exposure will undoubtedly mount as such a biosafety lapse raises serious concerns. However, I do not anticipate that even one case of clinical anthrax will result.