A Lantana, Florida man has been hospitalized with pulmonary anthrax, according to Florida health officials. US Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson said that there was no evidence of terrorism being involved. The last case of anthrax reported in Florida was in 1974.
Anthrax can be found in soil and is carried by livestock. The Florida victim is described as an “avid outdoorsman.”
The man had recently traveled to North Carolina, and began to experience symptoms shortly after he returned. Anthrax is a rare disease, and the pulmonary form, where the disease is inhaled, is extremely rare. Only 18 cases of pulmonary anthrax have been reported in the US in the past hundred years.
The more common, and less dangerous, cutaneous form is reported more frequently.
Pulmonary anthrax is treated with antibiotics, but treatment must begin as soon as symptoms appear or toxins emitted by the bacteria will quickly kill the victim. It is not believed that the Florida man who now has the disease will survive. The media is saying that the disease may have an incubation period as long as sixty days, however, medical texts state that the incubation period is one to six days, meaning that the victim could have gotten the disease during or immediately after his trip.
Insight: For a case of this rare disease to appear at this time is frighteningly coincidental, and requires both careful investigation and a heightened level of medical vigilance nationwide. If more cases are reported, it will be an almost undeniable signature of a biological attack on the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI are investigating the case, and Secretary Thompson has said that the US medical establishment is able and ready to respond to a bioterrorist attack.
The United States has on hand sufficient antibiotics to treat two million cases of anthrax for sixty days.
Pulmonary anthrax begins with flu-like symptoms, with sudden onset. It usually appears within one to six days of inhalation of the anthrax spores. It is not transmissable from person to person. A diagnostic characteristic of the disease is a widened mediastinum, a condition readily observable by a doctor. The mediastinum lies between the left and right pleurae in the center of the chest.
The preferred treatment for this disease is 400mg of Cipro in an IV. Ofloxacin and Lefofloxacin may be substituted in adults. Doxycycline 200mg IV, then 100 mg IV for 8-12 hr. per day for four weeks is another treatment. Penicillin may also be used.
In mass casualty situation, oral therapy with Cipro, Doxycycline and Amoxicillin may be used.
This theraputic information is presented for informational purposes only. It is based on information from Bio-Terry: A Stat Manual to Identify and Treat Diseases of Biological Terrorism by Dr. Paul Riga. This is a professional manaul for medical personnel.
To listen to an interview with Dr. Riga, click here.
To read the Fox News story, 2933,35779,00.html,click here.
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